Larbre Competition Returns To Its Roots In Search Of A Fresh Sporting Challenge
By Mel Fabrikant Monday, February 10, 2014, 06:44 PM EST
Since cutting their teeth in the category 25 years ago Larbre have gone on to enjoy significant international success, including five class wins at the Le Mans 24 Hours and the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship LMGTE Am Trophy. Two of those La Sarthe victories came with Porsche machinery thanks to back-to-back successes for their 911 Carrera RSR in 1993 and ’94.
Seeking a fresh sporting challenge in 2014, the Val de Vienne-based squad will look to make an instant impact on the category and have signalled their intent by selecting reigning series champion Gaël Castelli to lead the assault. The 24-year-old secured last year’s title driving for his family-run team, having previously claimed the domestic Peugeot THP Spider Cup and SEAT León Supercopa in 2010 and 2011 respectively.
Now he will look to take the next step towards a professional career with Larbre Competition by drawing upon their significant experience of international GT racing.
And the Carrera Cup represents the ideal place to do so having produced several top-line drivers, including the 2007 champion Patrick Pilet.
Now a factory Porsche GT pilot, Pilet also acts as a coach for the marque’s scholarship programme and lent his support to Castelli’s selection.
The driver of the team’s second car will be announced during next month’s Porsche test day at Paul Ricard (18-20 March).
Gaël Castelli: “I am very happy to be joining Larbre Competition and their Team Manager Jack Leconte, who I met at the Val de Vienne circuit in Le Vigeant. I would like to thank him for selecting me to race in the 2014 Porsche Carrera Cup France. It’s great to know that Jack noticed my potential. Working together I’ll be able to make further progress thanks to his structured and professional team, as well as gaining greater experience that allows me to take another step forward. I cannot wait for the season to start; the introduction of a new car sees everything re-set to zero, so we’ll be working hard to ensure we’re at the front from the outset of the championship. I would be very proud to help Larbre Competition secure the title, as well as adding another to my own racing CV.” Jack Leconte, Team Manager: “As the starting point of the Larbre Competition story, the Porsche Carrera Cup France holds a special place in my heart. I competed there myself for seven seasons while also running drivers in the premier class, yielding five titles thanks to Dominique Dupuy, Jean-Pierre Jarier, Christophe Bouchut and Sebastien Dumez.
“The exceptional quality of Porsche competition cars provides great motivation for my technical team. We have contested 17 seasons in the Carrera Cup with a host of different models, from the 944 through to the 997, and when I saw the new 991 I could tell it was an exceptional machine.
“So the decision has been made. Larbre Competition will return to the Carrera Cup and race the way we believe is correct: without Balance of Performance!
“On the driver front, we will continue our tradition of nurturing young talent. After discussing the potential candidates we are thrilled to confirm that Gaël Castelli will carry the #1 on his Larbre Competition car this season.
“Now the hard work begins so that we can be fully prepared when we arrive at the Bugatti circuit for the opening round April. We must also focus on integrating Gaël with our race engineer Johannes and our technical manager Philippe, both of whom are delighted to be working with Porsche machinery once more. The objective will be to ensure Gaël adopts a truly professional approach before helping him progress to the next level of endurance racing in the future.
“Our second car will be for either a junior driver or the B Trophy and we are currently assessing candidates. As such the Carrera Cup represents a full-time commitment for Larbre in 2014. We cannot wait to receive our new 991s and contest the opening test session, which will bring together both the French and Italian teams for a full week.”
2014 Porsche Carrera Cup France calendar
1. Le Mans Bugatti 25-27 April
2. Imola 16-18 May
3. Lédenon 30 May-1 June
4. Le Mans 11-14 June
5. Magny-Cours 5-7 September
6. Nogaro 26-28 September
7. Paul Ricard 24-26 October