Larbre Competition has officially confirmed that Jean-Philippe Belloc will form part of its line-up for this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans, partnering Pierre Ragues and Yutaka Yamagishi aboard the #50 LMGTE Am Corvette C7.R as replacement for the injured Paolo Ruberti.
French veteran Belloc has already had the opportunity to get acclimated with his new crew-mates after team manager Jack Leconte called him up for last weekend's official Le Mans test day and Belloc knows the Vigeant-based Larbre outfit extremely well, having raced under their banner at La Sarthe in 2001, 2011, and 2012, securing a trio of top-five finishes including a podium. WTCC regular Nicky Catsburg also stood in during the pre-race test, and impressed Leconte enough to warrant future consideration even if he does not race in the 24 Hours next weekend.
“When the going gets tough, it's essential to have solid footing and clear points of reference, and Jean-Philippe Belloc is definitely someone Larbre Competition can rely on,” Leconte said, “We have already enjoyed a successful common history, having contested plenty of championships and achieved many strong results together. The close relationship we have kept with Christophe Bourret, who also drove for Larbre in 2011 and 2012, has enabled us to overcome Paolo Ruberti's forfeit quickly.
“I'd also like to thank Nick Catsburg for his valuable help and excellent work during last weekend's Le Mans test day. With Paolo out of action for a long time, we're clearly keeping an eye on him for the remainder of the FIA World Endurance Championship season.”
An endurance expert, Belloc boasts a prestigious 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps victory on his resume and, with Larbre, has also won the 2001 FIA GT Championship and took part in the inaugural World Endurance Championship in 2012.
Since then, he has starred in the hotly-contested Blancpain GT Series and European Le Mans Series, as well as dominating the 2013 VdeV Michelin Endurance Series with five wins out of seven races. Representing Larbre Competition in the 84th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will mark Belloc's tenth entry in the twice-around-the-clock classic.
“I am delighted to have been chosen by Jack Leconte to replace Paolo Ruberti, to whom everybody sends their best wishes, for this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans,” he noted, “It's a very nice show of trust and a great privilege to defend the colours of Larbre Competition in the world's greatest endurance race.
“The LMGTE AM category is quite competitive this year but I think we have a very solid package. The Corvette C7.R has proven its worth and the team has what it takes to challenge for a good result.”