Larbre CompetitionLarbre Competition sealed their second successive Intercontinental Le Mans Cup title at last weekend’s Petit Le Mans with a runner-up finish at the Road Atlanta circuit’s American classic guaranteeing them the championship with a race to spare.

The team was on-track as early as September 24th in order to participate in the private test session held during the weekend prior to the event. After a total of four days running, during which 1,400kms were covered, they were able to enter the race with a perfect set-up on the #50 Corvette.

Despite being hit with three penalties during the 10 hour contest the three-man crew of Julien Canal, Patrick Bornhauser and Gabriele Gardel finished in an excellent second position, confirming them as 2011 GTE Am champions ahead of next month’s season-closing race in China (13 November).

This continuing success is a tribute to the hard work taking place at every level of the team: management, logistics, communications, engineering, mechanics and drivers. However the summit has yet to be reached, with Larbre Competition already preparing to enter the new World Endurance Championship (WEC) and their twentieth Le Mans 24 Hours in 2012.

Julien Canal: “Upon arrival at Road Atlanta we received technical and sporting support from the Corvette factory, which allowed us to quickly reach a good level of performance on what is a unique and tricky circuit. Thanks to this, and despite more than six minutes of penalties during the race, we managed to finish second and thus seal the 2011 ILMC championship title.

“I would like to thank Jack Leconte for the confidence he has shown in me this year, as well as all the technical staff who have provided us with a reliable and competitive car throughout the season. Finally, a big thank you to my two team-mates Patrick and Gabriele, with whom I have enjoyed a lot of good times. They are both great professionals and very good friends.”

Patrick Bornhauser: “There is always apprehension when arriving at a new circuit, but Road Atlanta has been a pleasant surprise with its many elevation changes and blind corners. It is a fascinating challenge, though the enjoyment is tempered by the sheer number of cars entered, which due to the track’s relatively short length creates a level of traffic I have never seen on any other circuit.

“The atmosphere within the team was as perfect as ever in America, allowing us to run a great race and take second at the finish, a position that could have been even better without the penalties handed out by race control. Nevertheless, the result gives us a second successive victory in the ILMC, a great achievement for the whole team.”

Gabriele Gardel: “We stared strongly with two days of testing, which was key to us getting a good feel for the track. The team worked extremely well and we easily found a good base set-up to use during the official testing days. Jack Leconte organised all the sessions perfectly, giving us a minimum of 100 laps before the race started.

“This is my fourth title with Jack and I am proud to further add to his and my own career haul. Without my team-mates Patrick and Julien and all the team I could have never done this. Thanks to every one of you for this wonderful moment.”

Jack Leconte: “The day prior to the race I organised a competition between the drivers on the fantastic ‘Legends at Château Elan’ golf course, which relieved the tension and saw a win for the seniors, Francis and Patrick.

“At the start Julien immediately took third position and was leading by his second stint. Then came the first safety car period, which we dealt with well. Safety cars are important to the Americans and are frequently deployed in order to spice-up the action.

“Having retired from March’s Sebring race as early as the first hour we were not able to fully familiarise ourselves with this particular American custom and a simple mistake during the second safety car period dropped the #50 to fifth place. Good strategy during the next five caution periods allowed us to retake first at the seven hour mark, but then a collision between our Corvette and the #57 Khron Ferrari that we were fighting for the lead resulted in another penalty, which dropped the #50 to second position.

“During the next safety car period we retook the lead once again, but in the final half-hour of the race yet another penalty was given for very ambiguous reasons, showing the race directors’ desire to ‘support’ the American Khron team’s entry. In total, the 7 minutes 30 seconds (which translates to five laps of the circuit) of penalties spent in the pits cost Larbre the win at Petit Le Mans.

“However this is quickly forgotten thanks to our second place finish and the 13 points scored at Road Atlanta, which has sealed this year’s ILMC championship – our second in a row –ahead of the series’ final round at Zhuhai, China on 13 November.”

GTE Am Result, Petit Le Mans:

1. Khron Racing Ferrari F430 355 laps

2. Larbre Competition Porsche 911 – 2 laps

3. AF Corse Ferrari F430 – 17 laps

4. Gulf AMR Middle East Aston Martin Vantage – 23 laps

5. CRS Racing Ferrari F430 – 45 laps

6. Proton Competition Porsche 997 – 192 laps

ILMC championship (GTE Am):

1. Larbre Competition 79 points

2. Krohn Racing 50

3. AF Corse 47

4. CRS Racing 39

5. Proton Competition 37

6. Gulf AMR Middle East 14

Photo credit: Julie Sueur and Larbre Competition