For this first meeting of the FIA WEC Super Season, REBELLION Racing performed for its return to the LMP1 category. Both R-13 cars dominated the LMP1 non-hybrid classification from the free practice to the 6 hours of racing, Toyota hybrids remain unreachable with the current EOT.
Following complicated qualifying session due to a breakdown and an accident of the Dragon Speed car, the REBELLION R-13 No.#1 and #3 finish P3 and P4, finally replaced P2 and P3 after the penalty of a Toyota Hybrid No.7.
André Lotterer and Thomas Laurent are the first to start on the Spa-Francorchamps track, considered by many drivers as the best circuit in the world.
After widening the gap with the other prototypes in the LMP1 category, both REBELLION R-13s continued to follow Sebastien Buemi driving the No.8 Toyota Hybrid race leader. At one hour of racing, the GT Chip Ganassi No.67 accident implied the Safety Car tightening the gaps between the leading cars. A few minutes later, Thomas Laurent and André Lotterer, give way to Gustavo Menezes and Bruno Senna. After two hours of racing, Bruno Senna is 21 seconds behind Fernando Alonso’s Toyota. Ending this second great stint, Mathias Beche and Neel Jani enter on track P3 and P4. At the half race, both REBELLION R-13s are in third and fourth positions between both Toyota Hybrid cars. In the fourth hour, a new car comes to interfere in the first positions, the SMP Racing No.17 rises for a while P3. At 1h50 from the end of the race, a data transmission problem causes a mandatory stop for the No.1 car. The transmission antenna no longer sends the data and must then be replaced. For many second, the car remains motionless seeing the team’s technicians get busy to solve the problem as quickly as possible. The car is coming off the pitlane P5. At 1:30 of the checkered flag, Thomas Laurent and André Lotterer are back on track still P4 and P5. Thomas Laurent leads is fighting for the podium with Matevos Isaakyan at the wheel of SMP Racing No.17. The young French driver finally could overtake its rival. This same third place will be finally taken by the sister car No.1 until the end of these 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
The first race of the Super Season has kept all its promises on the Belgian circuit. The disqualification of the No.1 car however taints this first result. Both REBELLION Racing crews have achieved excellent lap times throughout the meeting and both R-13 cars are very performing. The ambition of the team is to be able to fight and offer a nice show for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but for that it is obvious that the EOT will have to be modified.
Calim Bouhadra, Vice President of REBELLION: “We are very happy with our races despite the disqualification of No.1. The cars showed that they were very performing and that we have our place at the top of the competition. But the competition will not be attractive if the advantage of hybrids is not reviewed.”
Neel Jani, driver #1: “Congrats to the whole team, they had a hard winter and a tight schedule to get both cars ready for the first race! But we achieved first goal with getting both cars to the finishline! P3 was always the max. We could achieve and so we did! The DSQ was unfortunate but rule is rule and we have to accept losing this podium but I am happy our sister car is on the podium instead! We had very little running before the first race so this race was a bit of a test for us! We are happy despite the DSQ but we also know that we have a lot of work to do for Le Mans, especially if we want to get closer to the Toyota cars.”
Mathias Beche, driver #3: “Being on the podium for our first race is a great reward for the team. The car proved reliable and we were able to gain experience which was the most important for us. We still have a lot of work to do and we will get back to work to prepare for the huge challenge of Le Mans!”
Source. Rebellion Racing/ Photo. VIMAGES/Fabre