LE MANS: Ricky Taylor Signs With Larbre For LM24
Written by: John Dagys
Location: Northampton (UK)
Following in the footsteps of his father and brother, Ricky Taylor will get his chance to tackle the world’s greatest endurance race this year, having secured a ride with one of the most successful privateer endurance teams in the business.
The 23-year-old second-generation driver has signed with Larbre Competition for the 90th Le Mans 24 Hours, joining team regulars Julien Canal and Patrick Bornhauser in the French squad’s No. 50 Corvette C6.R, which will be seeking its third consecutive GTE-Am class victory and fourth in a row in the twice-around-the-clock classic.
“If I ever have a situation where I could be comfortable and have a good chance to win [Le Mans], this is it. I don’t think the opportunity could be better,” Taylor told SPEED.com in an exclusive interview.
“It’s a great opportunity for me because it’s a strong team, good car and not a huge factory effort, so there’s not too much pressure. But at the same time, they have won it three times in a row. I think it’s a good chance for me to go to Le Mans for my first time.”
The deal to jump aboard the two-time and defending class-winning Corvette came when Pedro Lamy, the team’s original designated professional driver, moved to one of Aston Martin Racing’s GTE-Pro entries, leaving a void for a Platinum or Gold-rated driver in the squad.
“Originally we were talking about the 70 car,” Taylor explained. “Then Cooper MacNeil ended up over there. I’d just gotten my [FIA/ACO] license all finalized and turned out that I was a Gold. A lot of the options went away at that point and I was kind of discouraged. Then, a seat opened up in the 50 car and Larbre called and said they’d like someone with a history of endurance racing.”
While it will mark Taylor’s debut at Le Mans, the GM driver holds an impressive resume in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series, which includes seven victories, a string of poles and two runner-up finishes in the DP championship, all with his father’s Wayne Taylor Racing operation. He’s since moved over to Spirit of Daytona Racing for 2013.
But outside of a one-off run in a V8 Supercar at last year’s Gold Coast 600, Le Mans will be Ricky’s first experience of a GT-style car but will have plenty of people to lean on for advise. That includes younger brother Jordan, who made his Le Mans debut in 2012 with Corvette Racing and returns to the factory GTE-Pro squad this year, with a similar spec Corvette C6.R.
“I’ve got the excuse and can say my car is a little bit older!” Ricky joked, in reference to the one-year old car mandate for cars competing in GTE-Am. “At the end of the day, it’s going to be good. I’m actually going to be sleeping in [Jordan’s] room at the track. We’re both going to be able to compare notes without being competitive, which is going to be cool.
“There’s going to be absolutely no competitive aspect to it, which is going to be weird, especially this year in DP. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Ricky will get his first taste of the Corvette C6.R in a private test in France, prior to the official Le Mans Test day on June 9 and the race itself on June 22-23.