Balance of Performance Stymies Larbre Competition in Sao Paulo
By Mel Fabrikant Friday, September 06, 2013, 01:20 PM EDT
Round four in Brazil was the first time that the French squad have failed to finish on the podium in 2013 despite the combined efforts of Patrick Bornhauser, Julien Canal and Fernando Rees, who was racing in front of his home crowd at Interlagos.
The ACO/FIA’s Balance of Performance regulations, which attempt to equalize all manufacturers competing in a certain class, proved disproportionately weighted against Corvette at Le Mans where its Pro and Am entries noticeably lacked straight-line speed. And that was clearly once again the case in Brazil where Larbre Competition’s C6.R was the slowest of any car through the speed trap.
Having spent Friday and Saturday’s practice sessions working hard on set-up in order to accommodate new specification Michelin tyres, a move the team is hopeful will pay dividends in Austin in two weeks, Rees and Canal faced an uphill battle against both the GTE Am opposition and BoP regulations in qualifying. Despite their best efforts the pair could manage no better than eighth on the grid, before picking up two positions postsession due to the disqualification of both the #76 IMSA Performance Porsche and #61 AF Corse Ferrari.
Rees would remain behind the wheel for the race’s opening stint on Sunday when an electrical issue saw the Corvette return to the pits after just 10 laps. The team worked quickly to identify and fix the problem, but with 12 minutes lost while the wiring loom was replaced any chance of continuing their podium streak was gone. Once back on track Rees, Bornhauser and Canal continued to push hard and were ultimately able to pick up a couple of positions over the remaining five hours.
Despite the setback dropping them to fourth in the GTE Am standings, just five points separates Larbre Competition from the class leaders with four rounds still remaining. What’s more, Corvette Racing has formally requested that the BoP be reviewed and equalized before the manufacturer’s home round at Circuit of the Americas on September 20-22.
On a personal note, as the first Brazilian driver home in 19th overall, Rees became the inaugural recipient of the Le Mans/Brazil Trophy, which NEWSLETTER # 8 PAGE 2 04/09/2013 was presented by motor racing legend Emerson Fittipaldi.
Patrick Bornhauser, #50 Corvette C6.R:
“Following the summer break I was looking forward to returning to Interlagos, a circuit where we were successful last year. But we soon realised that our lack of speed and being at the bottom of the timesheets was due to the FIA’s Balance of Performance regulations. Therefore any hopes of a strong showing quickly disappeared. The ability of some teams’ ‘gentlemen’ drivers, who are much closer to the level of a professional, only further complicates our task of scoring a good result.” Julien Canal, #50 Corvette C6.R: “Qualifying was disappointing, but we had a good car for the race.
Unfortunately we lost 10 laps during the first stint due to a technical issue. I took the wheel for a double stint and was fighting with one of the Aston Martins that was a contender for class victory. It couldn’t overtake.
Despite our lack of straight-line speed due to the Balance of Performance, my lap times were as fast as the leaders. It’s a shame because we could have fought for a place in the top-three. Hopefully we will be back to our best in Austin. It will be time to take our revenge!” Fernando Rees, #50 Corvette C6.R: “This weekend was a complete paradox for me: inside the car we were never successful, but outside it was a perfect weekend. Since the first practice session on Friday we had huge amounts of understeer in the car, a problem that continued throughout the whole event until the end of the race on Sunday evening. But outside the cockpit it was a truly brilliant atmosphere: so many fans, so much support! In my opinion no event this season has compared with Sao Paulo in terms of proximity with the fans and crowd energy. So it was a whole week of ups and downs. The result was not good at all, but seeing the championship standings now it doesn’t look so bad. The title race remains wide open so hopefully we’ll be more competitive in the remaining events if the WEC’s technical department modifies the Balance of Performance regulations to adjust our Corvette C6.R’s top speed. Regardless of the track, we’re currently 6-8kph slower than any other GT car!” Jack Leconte, Team Manager: “We’re obviously disappointed with the result at Interlagos. It’s a track where we’ve won before, in 2007 and ’12, but we knew it would be tough for us to compete there against Porsche, Aston Martin and Ferrari.
Nevertheless Patrick, Julien and Fernando did a great job and were it not for our early technical problem could have been fighting for a podium at the end. Once again our car was artificially the slowest in a straight line, which is something that needs to be addressed by the organisers.
We will always keep on fighting but I must admit that for a team like Larbre Competition, which has always worked hard to be successful, it’s a difficult and demotivating situation. Fortunately, due to consistency, we’ve managed to remain in the title fight, but the Balance of Performance must change for Austin. It will be great to visit America, the home of General Motors, with the Corvettes. As there are no factory cars competing in the Pro class we will be the centre of their fans’ attention, so it’s important that we put on a show.”
6 Hours of Sao Paulo: GTE Am Classification
1. #96 Aston Martin Racing/Aston Martin Campbell-Walter/Hall 208 laps
2. #81 8Star Motorsports/Ferrari Potolicchio/Aguas/Rigon 208 laps
3. #88 Proton Competition/Porsche Ried/Roda/Ruberti 207 laps
4. #76 IMSA Performance Matmut/Porsche Narac/Bourret/Vernay 207 laps
5. #57 Krohn Racing/Ferrari Krohn/Jonsson/Mediani 203 laps
6. #50 Larbre Competition/Corvette Bornhauser/Canal/Rees 194 laps
7. #95 Aston Martin Racing/Aston Martin Nygaard/Poulsen/Thiim 162 laps
8. #61 AF Corse/Ferrari Gerber/Griffin/Cioci 74 laps FIA WEC GTE Am Points (after four rounds)
1. IMSA Performance Matmut 76 points
2. 8Star Motorsports 74
3. Aston Martin Racing (#96) 74
4. Larbre Competition 71
5. Proton Competition 55
6. Aston Martin Racing (#95) 46
7. AF Corse 44
8. Krohn Racing 24
Photo credits: Vision Sport Agency