Larbre Competition represents the French excellence in GT racing
Larbre Competition is a French racing team, founded in 1988 and based at Circuit de Val de Vienne in Le Vigeant, which recorded notable successes in different sports car competitions since its foundation. The team scored five class victories at 24 hours of Le Mans and numerous championship titles in international competitions such were FIA GT Championship, Le Mans Series or Intercontinental Le Mans Cup.
In recent years, Larbre Competition was participating in the FIA World Endurance Championship with Chevrolet Corvette. The greatest results were achieved in 2012 when the team won both 24h Le Mans and championship title in the GTE Am class.
Sensational double win at 1993 Le Mans 24h
Larbre Competition was founded by racing driver Jack Leconte (born 1959). The team was running Porsche cars in national and international competitions. The first great success came in 1993 when Larbre Competition achieved a sensational 1-2 victory in the GT class of 24 hours of Le Mans. The GT class was included in the race for the first time since 1986, with 24 GT cars on the entry list.
The #47 Larbre Competition Porsche 911 Carrera RSR won the race, driven by Jurgen Barth, Dominique Dupuy and Joel Gouhier. The #78 Porsche car finished in the second place, three laps behind, driven by Jack Leconte, Jesus Pareja and Pierre de Thoisy.
Back-to-back Le Mans win in 1994
A year later, Larbre Competition captured another Le Mans victory. The #52 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR was a victorious GT2 car, driven by Dominque Dupuy, Jesus Pareja and Carlos Palau. The team fielded two more cars (#49 and #50) which didn’t finish the race.
Of other competitions during the 1990s, the team was active in the Porsche Carrera Cup and French GT Championship. The first French GT title for the team was captured by Patrice Goueslard in 1997. He was driving a Porsche 911 GT2. Goueslard was French champion one more time, in 2003, when he was driving Larbre’s Chrysler Viper GTS-R.
Conversion from Porsche to Chrysler in 2001
Larbre Competition made a conversion from Porsche to Chrysler in 2001, following a successful season in the 2000 FIA GT Championship. Patrice Goueslard and Christophe Bouchut were N-GT class champions for 2000, after winning six of ten races in the #52 Porsche 911 GT3-R.
In 2001 FIA GT Championship, the team was running Chrysler Viper GTS-R in GT class. Christophe Bouchut and Jean-Philippe Belloc were the winners four times in the #7 Chrysler, including 24 hours of Spa, to take one more FIA GT title for the team. At Spa, the third driver was Marc Duez.
Three FIA GT titles in three years
A similar season followed in 2002 when Larbre Competition took a victory at Spa again and won the FIA GT Championship title. This time, full-time drivers in the #1 Chrysler were Christophe Bouchut and David Terrien. At Spa, they were joined by Sebastien Bourdais and Vincent Vosse.
It was the only win for the team in 2002 but it was good enough to take the title ahead of rivals from Lister Storm Racing. The team left the championship in 2003, participating only at 24h Spa. The #1 Chrysler finished in the fourth place.
GTS champions in the inaugural Le Mans Series season
In 2004, Larbre Competition entered the inaugural season of the Le Mans Endurance Series, fielding the #86 Ferrari 550 GTS Maranello in the GTS class. The first win came in the opening round at Monza, with Christophe Bouchut, Pedro Lamy and Steve Zacchia as drivers.
The team added three more wins in three races, dominantly taking a GTS title. In the last championship race, at Spa, the team also fielded Panoz GTP LMP1 prototype but without any success.
Another LMS title with Aston Martin
For the 2006 Le Mans Series season, Larbre Competition became one of Aston Martin factory teams in the GT1 class. Pedro Lamy, Vincent Vosse and Gabriele Gardel won the season-opening race at Spa in the #50 Aston Martin DBR9. A second win followed in the third round at Nurburgring. After five races, Larbre Competition added one more title to its account.
In that year’s 24h Le Mans, the team was running Ferrari 550 GTS Maranello, not finishing the race.
Racing with Saleen since 2008, champions in 2010
After one more LMS season with Aston Martin in 2007, when the team scored one victory and finished third in GT1 standings, Larbre Competition switched to Saleen S7-R for the 2008 season. They scored no wins in the first season with Saleen, finishing fifth in the GT1 standings.
With one victory in 2009, the team was second in the LMS GT1 classification. And then, in 2010, Larbre Competition captured its third LMS title with the third different manufacturer. The championship-winning pair in the #50 Saleen S7-R were Patrice Goueslard and Gabriele Gardel. They scored four wins in five races. In three races, their co-driver was Fernando Rees.
Third Le Mans class victory in 2010
In 2010, Larbre Competition also won the GT1 title in the inaugural season of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, which consisted of three races (two for GT1 cars).
Besides being successful in the ILMC and LMS, the team also gained success at 24 hours of Le Mans, scoring its third class victory and the first ever win for Saleen. The drivers in the victorious #50 car were Julien Canal, Roland Berville and Gabriele Gardel.
Racing with Chevrolet Corvette since 2011
Another change of manufacturer followed in 2011 when Larbre Competition switched to Chevrolet Corvette C6.R GT2. The season was successful, with one more Intercontinental Le Mans Cup title and Le Mans 24h class victory. In six ILMC races, Patrick Bornhauser, Julien Canal and Gabriele Gardel were the winners two times, taking a title in the LMGTE Am class.
At 24 hours of Le Mans, the same four drivers in the #50 Corvette were the winners ahead of team’s another car, the #70 Porsche 997 GT3 RSR. It was the fourth class victory at Le Mans in team’s history.
Fifth Le Mans win and world championship trophy in 2012
The fifth win came in 2012, when Patrick Bornhauser, Julien Canal and Pedro Lamy beat the opposition in the LMGTE Am class with #50 Chevrolet Corvette C6.R. Another team’s Corvette finished fifth in the classification.
The season 2012 was the inaugural year for revived FIA World Endurance Championship. Larbre Competition participated with two cars in the GTE Am class, scoring two more wins except for 24h Le Mans. At the end of the season, they were world champions, taking the LMGTE Am Trophy.
Regular FIA WEC entrants until 2016
In the following years, from 2013 to 2016, Larbre Competition was the regular entrant of the FIA World Endurance Championship. Without wins (fifth at Le Mans), the team finished fifth in the 2013 LMGTE Am standings. In 2014, the team skipped the championship but participated at 24h Le Mans with Morgan LMP2 prototype, finishing ninth in the class.
In 2015, Larbre Competition returned full-time with #50 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R. The team finished in the seventh place among seven GTE Am teams. Larbre Competition was using services of seven drivers in the 2016 FIA WEC season, with Pierre Ragues as only full-time drivers. He was classified sixth among GTE Am drivers, the team finished in the fifth place.
Out of world championship in 2017
In 2017, Larbre Competition is out of FIA WEC again. The team returned to Le Mans 24-hour race only, presenting the interesting Corvette Human Art Car painted by artist Ramzi Adek.
Fernando Rees was the fastest GTE Am qualifier in the #50 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R. In the race, he was joined by Romain Brandela and gentleman driver Christian Philippon. After 309 laps, they were 15th in the class.