Larbre Competition is delighted to confirm that it will compete in the 86th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours, after entering the 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship Super Season, running a Ligier JS P217 in the LMP2 class.
This marks the French squad’s 25th participation in the world’s greatest endurance race, in which it has scored five class victories since debuting in 1993, and will be its second prototype entry, having previously run a Morgan LMP2 in 2014.
The Val de Vienne-based team has also confirmed its line-up for this year’s FIA WEC and Le Mans, with Brazilian Fernando Rees returning to the squad alongside newcomers Romano Ricci and Erwin Creed, who both enjoyed successful campaigns in the European Le Mans Series’ LMP3 class last year.
Having made his endurance racing debut with Larbre in 2007, Rees drove the team’s Aston Martin DBR9 to victory in that year's 1000km of Interlagos, and has since scored multiple wins in the Le Mans Series and FIA WEC. The 33-year-old returned to the squad for the Le Mans 24 Hours, storming to a LMGTE Am pole position in the #50 Corvette C7.R Art Car.
Ricci began his racing career in 1997, before participating at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2000 with his father, 1992 Le Mans C3 class winner Jean-Louis, driving a Porsche 911 GT3-R to fourth in the GT class.
More recently, the Frenchman finished runner-up in the 2014 Mitjet 2L Supersport series, before joining the Yvan Muller Racing team in LMP3. He was second and eighth in last year’s Road to Le Mans and was vice champion in the ELMS championship in a Ligier JS P3.
With experience of single-seater and endurance racing, Creed finished fifth overall in the 2016 V de V Monoplace championship, before taking an LMP3 victory in last year’s ELMS championship at Monza. The Frenchman also claimed third in the 2017 V de V Proto Endurance Challenge, scoring three podiums, as well as P3 in the second Road to Le Mans race.
Jack Leconte: “I had a lot of thoughts about entering this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours. It had to be a special project to celebrate Larbre Competition’s 25th anniversary at this great event. Alongside this, the development of our now-seven-year partnership with my friend Jacques Nicolet led us to have a proper think about our facilities at Val de Vienne.
“Onroak is now developing a complete range of prototypes, allowing the possibility for customers to compete at various levels in world-famous endurance events such as Daytona, Sebring, Le Mans and Road Atlanta. After 30 years of racing, Larbre understands the requirements of these circuits and has the racing know-how for perfecting strategies at the top endurance events.
“Larbre is well-known for training new and inexperienced drivers for the Le Mans 24 Hours, and will continue to do so ahead of the 2018 season, with a bespoke testing programme developed by Onroak and Les Deux Arbres facilities.
“I’m delighted to be bringing in two new drivers, Erwin and Romano, who will enjoy driving the LMP2 car, after both having great success in the ELMS’ LMP3 class last year. We have had more than 10 drivers debut at Le Mans with us, who have gone on to have successful endurance careers, so I’m happy to be giving that opportunity here again. It’s also great to have Fernando back in the team for a new challenge. He did a good job last year and we are looking forward to working with him again.
“This new entry in the FIA WEC is highly motivating for the entire team, who know the championship and its various iterations very well.”
Fernando Rees: “It’s a true honour to be part of Larbre Competition once again at Le Mans, this time with a new challenge for us all in the LMP2 category in the team’s 25th participation of the event. I’m very thankful for Jack’s support and trust. We have a long relationship and always worked well together. I can’t wait to begin testing and preparing the new car. I’m really looking forward to this opportunity.”
Romano Ricci: “I’m thrilled to be given this great challenge by Jack. It’s very exciting to be joining a team with as much history as Larbre has. I’m also looking forward to teaming up with Erwin, who has been my friend since we were kids. We have a good understanding of each other and there is a lot of respect between us. It will be good to see our level of competition against the others, I think we may surprise a few. I’ve had experience in endurance racing, competing at Le Mans in 2000, Road to Le Mans twice, the ELMS championship, and even done the 25 Hours of Spa on 17 occasions! It’s important to learn about a number of aspects, including tyre and traffic management, so I’m looking forward to putting that to the ultimate test.”
Erwin Creed: “This is something any driver looks forward to. I’ve competed in the ELMS and V de V Endurance Series and have been looking to make this step up. I’ve tested the Ligier JS P3; it is very smooth and you feel in control. It will be an interesting experience in the LMP2, especially now with how much quicker they are. Last year at the Road to Le Mans, I was very pleased with my progress through the field and to finish third after starting at the back. This is a new challenge and I can’t wait to get going.”