Le Mans 2015 Preview
To worldwide road racing aficionados, Le Mans is a mystical place. The annual French event dates back to 1923 when the Automobile Club of the Sarthe held their first race. Each summer the city transforms as the Les Vingt Quatre Heures du Mans or the 24 Hours of Le Mans swell the city's population to over 500,000. Spectators pack themselves into the famous 8.48-mile circuit. To win or even finish, competitors must run flat out, be trouble free and minimize pit visits. The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (Automobile Club of the West) is very strict about who races at Le Mans. Only the top sports cars of the world are invited to participate in this race.
Le Mans practice and qualifying sessions are limited, because a portion of the racecourse is a main public highway and it can only be closed for a limited time. Each year the organizers close highway N138 (the Mulsanne straight) and open the track for practice and qualifying. For the 2015 Edition of the race, Corvette fans will be greeted once again by a familiar face, in the form of French team Larbre Competition. After last year's absence in the GT category (awaiting the class eligibility of the new C7.R), the team returns ready to tackle the GTE-AM category once more. New for this year are seasoned drivers Gianluca Roda, Paolo Ruberti, and last year's class winner Kristian Poulsen.
After an opening spate of bad luck in their FIA WEC campaign, the team is reinvigorated and ready to show the world their true potential. The team began the race preparation at the annual pre event test that takes place two weeks prior to the main event. There, damp conditions greeted the 56 entrants throughout most of the sessions. Despite this, the team was able to complete a healthy amount of laps to help fine tune their V8 machine. “This year’s Le Mans Test Day boiled down to a game of hide-and-seek with the sky, clouds and rain" Explained Team Owner Jack Laconte. "This gave our drivers the opportunity to sample all track conditions and, although it was tricky working on our dry weather set-up, we could also rely on data gathered at the first two WEC races. “I remain optimistic for the race as we always arrive fully prepared at Le Mans. Our competition is fierce but we’ll do our best to put in a strong performance and step on to the podium again.”
Turning to the race week, the team arrived to Sundays Scrutineering refreshed and eager to meet both fans and technical inspectors. This year marks the teams 23rd appearance at the Le Mans 24 Hours. “Scrutineering was a really fun day! explained Ruberti. "We had nice weather and there were so many spectators there showing their support. Now, I’m looking ahead to free practice to see how the car is working before we push for qualifying.” Jack Laconte was confident for his teams Sunday Afternoon checks: “Scrutineering has become something of a routine for us at Larbre Competition seeing as this was our 23rd time there.
The team will be battling a very strong class of opposition. Notable entries are the Nr98 vantage GTE and the Nr53 Reiley entered Dodge Viper. With local weather reports forecasting potential rain showers over the track this week, the 2012 FIA WEC GTE Am champions will be grateful of their Wet Test Day preparations. The five-time class winners now look ahead to free practice and the first qualifying session at the iconic Circuit de la Sarthe (June 10). Given the recent hard work by the team and hopefully "Lady Luck" on their side, this year's race certainly has the potential to challenge for an outright win in the GTE-AM class. Corvette Motorsport will again bring the fans live coverage via our dedicated Le Mans webpage. Additionally we will be covering the event for 24hrs straight, via our Twitter page: @Corvettems.
Additional Team Quotes-
Jack Laconte (Team Owner): “It’s always an important event, especially for morale within the team as some members work with us all year long, while others only join us for Le Mans. Scrutineering is the first time we’re all together and is a great opportunity for everyone to find their feet before giving 100% for the best possible result on Sunday.
“Wednesday’s programme will obviously be weather-dependent seeing as conditions have been quite unsettled this year. Test Day mostly took place in the rain but has been followed by glorious weather. More showers are expected throughout the event but at least we know our wet weather set-up has been perfectly fine-tuned! What’s more, I’m delighted BRM have come on board as the Le Mans 24 Hours gets going. Bernard has become a good friend over the year's and we’re happy and proud to be associated with this prestigious French brand at a blue riband event like Le Mans.”
Kristian Poulsen: “The Test Day was good, but the weather was really bad so we didn’t get to do that much running in the dry. I think we have a good set-up though and it’s going to be an exciting 24 hours. Le Mans is a long race and it takes a lot to do well, but I really think we have the speed to be at the front.”
Gianluca Roda: “It’s my fourth time here at Le Mans; the best race in the world! It’s a really special week for the French fans, as well as all those that travel from abroad to come and watch. I’m feeling good about the race after our strong Test Day in the rain, especially as we’re expecting similar conditions on Saturday and Sunday. However, 24 hours is a long time so we’ll see what happens.”