Vaillante Rebellion team manager Bart Hayden said the exclusion of its No. 13 Oreca 07 Gibson from last month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans was a “lesson learned” as the Anglo-Swiss squad looks to move forward and focus on its title fight in the remaining FIA World Endurance Championship rounds.
The Nelson Piquet Jr., Mathias Beche and David Heinemeier Hansson-driven entry lost its third place overall finish and runner-up LMP2 result due to modifications made to the car’s homologated bodywork, stripping the team of its first overall podium finish in the French endurance classic.
While two senior members of the team have been internally placed on a one-race suspension for this weekend’s Six Hours of Nürburgring, Hayden said they haven’t had much time to dwell on the disappointments of Le Mans.
“We’ve had some meetings internally and we talked about the situation,” he told Sportscar365. “I think it’s a lesson learned from everybody.
“We were in a situation where for much of the race, we were P1 and P2, only to see it slipping away. I think it acts of desperation to try and hang on to some part of what we were experiencing there. That’s what happened.”
Both of the team’s Orecas faced starter motor issues over the course of the race, which prompted the No. 13 crew to drill a hole in the bodywork in order to use a hammer to help restart the engine during pit stops.
While Hayden admitted the measure “would have been applauded” five years ago, it is deemed illegal in the new-for-2017 LMP2 regulations, as the homologated bodywork cannot be modified.
“It’s interesting when you read people’s comments on the Internet,” Hayden said. “It’s split opinion.
“Half of the people say, ‘Why have they been penalized? Surely the spirit of Le Mans is about getting to the end no matter what.’ Then you have others that say, ‘The rules are the rules.’
“I guess at the end of the day that’s the situation. I think the ‘years of old’ are probably a little bit more laissez-faire and a comprehension of the circumstances. But it’s not the world we live in now.”
Despite the disappointment, and WEC points blow to the No. 13 car, Hayden said their performance at Le Mans, and the LMP2 class as a whole, has provided them with optimism heading into the remainder of the season, as well as next year’s race.
“The cars are super fast as you can see,” he said. “Who knows what’s going to happen with LMP1; until the end of the month there’s a bit of a question mark how that’s all going to go.
“The gratifying thing is that the P2 cars were as quick as we expected them to be.
“On the whole, the reliability wasn’t bad. For much of the race, we had cars that were running P1 and P2, and that was through strategy and everything else.
“That encourages you and makes you think… Normally in the second year of running these types of cars, you know a bit more about the niggles and quirks and you rectify them.
“You’d like to think that if we went back to Le Mans with these cars again next year, we’d have a really strong chance.”