Grabau International at Le Mans 24hrs

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The weekend of 17th-18th June saw Grabau International travel to France for the 85th running of the world-famous Le Mans 24 race. What has this got to do with yachting you may ask? The answer is that Roberto Lacorte, owner of our very favourite Vismara V62 ‘SUPERNIKKA’ was entered with his Cetilar Villorba Corse racing team.

Cetilar Villorba Corse - Le Mans 24hrs 2017 (4)

Racing in the ultra-competitive LMP2 class, Roberto and his fellow drivers Giorgio Sernagiotto and Andrea Belicchi fought their way through 30+ degree heat to an utterly astounding 9th place overall finish in their debut Le Mans entry and first season of LMP2 racing from a field of 60 cars in their No.47 Dallara P217 car. For those unfamiliar with Endurance racing, the Le Mans 24 race consists of 4 classes:

  • LMP1 (Le Mans Prototype 1) – A money-no-object class with professional drivers and teams entered by the biggest car companies in the world (this year, the race was won by Porsche who were entering their Porsche 919 Hybrid in LMP1).
  • LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 2) –  Perhaps the closest fought class with 25 cars entered in this class, where teams must field both professional and amateur drivers and cars are closely matched through a limited choice of chassis providers (The Cetilar team was one of 3 teams using the Italian-built Dallara chassis) and a single engine supplier (Gibson) providing the 600hp 4.2 litres V8 power unit. This closely controlled competing enviroment keeps budgets from escalating with no car allowed to exceed Euro 483k with engine or homologated electronic equipment allowing team budgets to comfortably remain in 7 figure territories as opposed to the 8 or 9 figure budgets found in LMP1.
  • LMGTE Pro – Similar to LMP1 but using cars that we may recognise such as the Ferrari 488, Aston Martin Vantage, Porsche 911, Ford GT and Corvette C7. As with LMP1, full factory support is common, budgets are wild and the drivers are top professionals.
  • LMGTE Am – The sportscar version of LMP2 with amateur drivers and cars more closely related to those that can be bought in a showroom.

The Le Mans 24hrs traditionally starts at 15:00 on Saturday afternoon and finishes at 15:00 the following day. During the 24hrs period, the cars race continuously around the legendary 13.629km Circuit de la Sarthe circuit stopping only for driver changes, fuel, tyres and essential repairs. LMP1 cars can complete this lap in qualifying mode within 3 minutes and 15 seconds, with the LMP2 cars barely 10 seconds behind. To achieve his 9th place overall finish, Roberto and his team managed to cut these average speed differentials even further by covering just 200kms less than the race-winning LMP2 car with 4,811kms covered over the 24hr period through a combination of consistent driving and bullet-proof reliability.

Cetilar Villorba Corse - Le Mans 24hrs 2017 (5)

All the more amazing in this achievement is that Roberto had literally just stepped off his boat a few days earlier after taking part in the annual 151 Miglia race in Italy; a race that he hosts as the Trofeo Cetilar which this year attracted 217 entries. This combined with his day job of running one of Italy’s most successful pharmaceutical companies, makes us wonder how he finds the time to fit it all in. It is said that we only have one life, and we should live it to the max. Roberto encapsulates this completely, and for this and his stunning achievement last weekend; we salute him.

Cetilar Villorba Corse - Le Mans 24hrs 2017 (9)

While we cannot really help with any clients wanting to enter next year’s Le Mans 24 race, we can assist should you wish to compete against Roberto and his all-conquering Vismara V62 ‘SUPERNIKKA’. Please contact us for more information about buying or building a new racing yacht with Grabau International.

Cetilar Villorba Corse - Le Mans 24hrs 2017 (11)

Whilst the Le Mans 24 is part of the FIA World Endurance Championship, Roberto and his team also compete in the European Le Mans Series which features 6 rounds across Europe at such iconic tracks as Silverstone, Monza and Spa. The next round will be at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on 21st-23rd July.

Cetilar Villorba Corse - Le Mans 24hrs 2017 (1)

Photographs courtesy of Scuderia Villorba Corsa

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