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Jani: Rebellion Can “Never Fight Straight” With Toyota

Non-hybrids not allowed to beat Toyota on single lap, focusing on own pace…

Photo: Olivier Beroud Images

Rebellion Racing won’t be able to fight on track with Toyota despite being the fastest non-hybrid LMP1 team, according to Neel Jani.

The Swiss driver says the team’s aim is to be “the best of the rest”, and that its only hope to beat Toyota is if the Japanese manufacturer hits problems.

He says he would have no chance of matching the Toyota’s one-lap pace because of a rule that penalizes non-hybrid teams that are quicker than the hybrid Toyotas.

“We’re not allowed to be quicker than the Toyota,” Jani told Sportscar365. “Otherwise, we get a drive-through. It’s in the rules.

“As soon as we are too quick, we get a drive-through. We know we can never fight them straight on the track, so our aim can only be the fastest non-hybrid.”

Equivalence of Technology rules for Le Mans stipulate that the Toyotas will have a 0.5-second per lap advantage in pace over the non-hybrids, as well as going one additional lap on fuel per stint and having quicker refueling times.

When added up for the full race distance, the Toyotas could have upwards of an eight-minute leg up, in the case of a trouble-free 24 hours for the pair of hybrid contenders.

It’s thus made non-hybrid teams like Rebellion re-adjust their expectations heading into this weekend’s French endurance classic.

“Even if we had the pace, we wouldn’t be able to play it,” Jani said. “Anyway, we don’t have the pace to beat them in a straight fight.

“It’s logic, it’s a manufacturer. We cannot have that pace. We’ll focus on ourselves and see what we can do.”

Jani has first-hand experience of the different approaches to Le Mans shown by manufacturer and privateer LMP1 teams, having come from the now-defunct Porsche LMP1 program along with Andre Lotterer.

“It’s a much smaller operation,” Lotterer told Sportscar365.

“Audi had over 300 people spending more than €200 million a year so you could have what you wanted in terms of technical requests. Here, it’s a small project but it’s a very strong one.”

Both drivers have stressed that Rebellion is focusing on itself and is much more concerned with remaining the quickest non-hybrid team than chasing the Toyotas.

“Focusing on Toyota will not help us,” Jani added.

“Under normal circumstances, we cannot beat them, but Le Mans has shown its own rules many times.

“That’s why our focus is to concentrate on ourselves and maximize our chances.”

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist who is Sportscar365's European Editor and also Managing Editor for e-racing365. He is a student of Politics and International Relations. Contact Jake



  1. Dave

    June 11, 2018 at 10:04 am

    Is this really true? Should they actually be faster they get a drive-thru?! That’s F’’ed up.

    • Pay Driver

      June 11, 2018 at 10:38 am

      Correct. Toyota are not allowed to lose unless they choke big-time again.

    • TF110

      June 11, 2018 at 12:05 pm

      I think these guys are reading the rules with a slanted view. The eot is set up for them to be within half a second of Toyota. If they are faster that means they were sandbagging and trying to get even better eot. That’s the rules. So what he said is somewhat true but nothing about not allowing them to race Toyota. Just can’t game the system to get faster.

      • Kenneth Christensen

        June 12, 2018 at 2:31 am

        Doesn’t this instead give the Toyota’s a really good reason for sandbagging? They would be interested in setting the bar as low as possible to increase the gap in case of technical issues, which Toyota has had quite a bit of at LM.

        • Kenneth Christensen

          June 12, 2018 at 2:32 am

          Supposing there was a EoT test earlier, much like the BOP test at Paul Ricard for GT3.

    • Paul

      June 11, 2018 at 1:11 pm

      it´s true. If privateers laps faster than the Toyota’s they can get mid-race penalties (stewards decision). It’s sad to write, but yes, true and utterly f****d up.

  2. jason

    June 11, 2018 at 10:38 am

    That is crazy if that is the case. Why call it a race. Seriously the prototype classes are messed up this year. After reading this article. I seriously hope the Toyotas break down. The best LMP1 privateer race is probably going to be between the 2 Rebellion R13s and the Jenson Button Dallara BR1.

    Otherwise, the real race this year is GTLM.

    • Larry

      June 11, 2018 at 2:56 pm

      You mean GTE-PRO, right?

  3. Pay Driver

    June 11, 2018 at 10:43 am

    I take this from the EoT document dated 4/16/18:

    “If a LMP1NH car is faster than its expected performance relative to the best LMP1H or is not capable to provide proper data from the homologated sensors it will be subject to a penalty applicable during the race at steward’s discretion.
    This penalty may consist in the reduction of fuel allocation for the remainder of the race.”

    “The gap will be defined between the best LMP1H and the best LMP1NH cars and should not be less than 0.25%.”

    • The_Esses

      June 11, 2018 at 1:06 pm

      i reckon this actually happend at Spa? the rebellion was pulled into the pits because the homologated sensors failed if my memory serves me. Lotterer wasn’t too happy about it either…

      • Pay Driver

        June 11, 2018 at 1:35 pm

        Yeah I think that was the FIA-mandated data transmission antenna that stopped working.

    • N8

      June 11, 2018 at 1:17 pm

      When is this applicable? DURING the race, or up until the end qualifying?

      It could not possibly be applied during the race for more reasons that I can even list here. For example, if the only remaining Toyota has a systems malfunction that reduces it’s ultimate pace, you cannot the expect non-hybrids to reduce their pace relative to that of a wounded but function hybrid. Can you?

      • Pay Driver

        June 11, 2018 at 1:31 pm

        They can apply during the race, but they do take into consideration special circumstances as you mentioned.

        “The performance of each LMP1H and LMP1NH will be calculated by doing the average (1) of best 20% theoretical lap times on a number of laps corresponding to 20% of the race distance.
        The performance achievements will be analysed after 1 hour of race and should also consider race facts (accident, weather changing conditions, LMP1H performance dropping…)”

    • TF110

      June 11, 2018 at 1:39 pm

      Reading that rule it’s pretty clear that the cars are equalized by the eot and are set up with data and good faith that the private teams are giving it their all. The rule is that if these private cars all of a sudden find some unfounded pace they can be penalized. So if you get technical, yes that means faster than Toyota, which they are not supposed to be according to the eot.

  4. At least be consistent fans

    June 11, 2018 at 11:28 am

    I love it, everyone cried foul over the sandbagging last couple years in GTE so the ACO writes a rule to try and control sandbagging and the first complaint is it’s unfair. Pick one, it’s unfair or sandbagging is ok but you can’t have both. And before you Butch and moan it’s BOP, NO it is not. BOP is applied to individual chassis, the EOT is NOT applied to individual chassis but the LMP-nonhybrid as a class. They can’t say Rebellion gets a different rule, the ACO has stated that directly multiple times. But I guess reading is harder than bitching and uninformed keyboard warrior mentality

    • Paul

      June 11, 2018 at 1:18 pm

      Problem is they call it Equivalence of T. when it is an Unequivalence of T. No wonder people are upset, with good reason. The race would be more interesting if the Toyota’s took each other out in the first corner, the absurd result of the biased EoT.

      • Really, reading is fundamental people

        June 11, 2018 at 1:41 pm

        It doesn’t say equal lap times, says equivalence under the rules. But hey reading can be tough and understanding even more so. It’s not about equal lap times, it’s equaling what is written in the rules, as they have said multiple times. Everyone entering knew the rules would favor the LMP1-H cars but I guess reading that line was too hard?? It’s not so everyone gets their fair and equal slice of cake. Toyota spent the money on what the ACO wants to be the cars in the fastest class but they made an allowance for others to compete, not others to compete fairly. To me that means “fans” can’t read or don’t want to be bothered. It is NOT that difficult to understand.

      • TF110

        June 11, 2018 at 1:44 pm

        How do you know? The race hasn’t even started, the practice sessions haven’t even started! Lol, the Toyota hybrids have a smaller tank, of course they’ll refuel faster. And going longer on a stint is obvious too thanks to the efficiency advantage of a hybrid car. Plus Toyota is the fastest lmp1 ever, these private teams are lucky to be in the same ballpark as them. The race isn’t over until it’s over.

      • Just another fan

        June 11, 2018 at 6:38 pm

        Paul, there is in fact an Unequivalence of Technology. It is written so that the NHs can be closer to the Hs that they have any right to be. If you ever looked at an EoT table from this year you would have seen how it favours the NHs in all parameters bar the one they have zero – hybrid energy.
        I agree with you, let’s give both type of cars the same EoT. It was much better like it was in H days. EoT allowed racing and gaps to be quite big – bigger than they are now.
        As it is now, you’re wishing the loss of two prototypes which, to suffer terminal damage need to take quite a beating. Very cool from you. I do wonder who you’re rooting for. Certainly not for the team who cheated at Spa and at last year’s Le Mans, I hope.

    • Yetimania

      June 11, 2018 at 1:54 pm

      Any rule to be fair should be applied universally, meaning if Toyota’s pace is more than the designated 0.5 sec per lap against the best privateer they should be penalized accordingly reducing the fuel allowance or stopping them in the pitlane.
      Anyway ACO are french chicken they want to overrule everything to feel safer… They could artificially create a great race and give victory to Toyota in the pit stops, but tuey prefer erasing any single chance of victory for privateers. Justice will be done no matter what… Crashes happen 😉

  5. southcove

    June 11, 2018 at 11:37 am

    Messed up for sure – but I sort of (not defending ACO, FIA here…) understand the bone they tossed the Toyota factory for making the committment to stay in the Super Series over the time period…would P1 have collapsed entirely without a pure factory entry – and would that have been okay – or better than what we seem to have now.

    Still, its a kick the shorts to the shaper end of the P1 non hybrid field.

    • Yetimania

      June 11, 2018 at 2:00 pm

      One thing is to offer advantage and other thing is destroying any chance of competition.
      Privateers were given the advice to enter LMP1 offering parity of performance against hybrids and their only advantage was supposed to be just fuel economy.
      ACO downgraded twice privateers after perceiving their performance gains were going to be greater after the first WEC test at Paul Ricard… That’s called overreacting.
      At least privateers they were guaranteed further reliability due to EoT updated power delivery.

      • FlyingLobster27

        June 11, 2018 at 3:09 pm

        “Privateers were given the advice to enter LMP1 offering parity of performance against hybrids”
        Reminds me of what Endurance-Info published earlier this week, a look back at the ‘8 years with Henri Pescarolo (1968, 1978, 1988, you get the picture). His reflection on 2008 is eerily similar to that.

        Apparently, Judd offered to build a Diesel version of their V10. The ACO said “don’t bother, there will be a Diesel-petrol equivalence”, and… from Henri’s point of view, there definitely wasn’t one.

        There arguably hasn’t been a proper factory-privateer EoT in the top class since it was first mentioned, 10 years ago. Will that change or will history repeat itself? The truth is just 3 days away for qualifying, 6 days away for the result.

    • JM

      June 11, 2018 at 5:33 pm

      Not that much of a kick in the shorts, consider that the Toyo ICE is power limited by the rules to output less HP than the LMP NH ICE, and that the Toyo hybrid introduces an order of magnitude complexity, and reliability issues, compared to LMP NH, so there are inherent advantages to LMP NH that Jani is only winking at. I’m not sure if there has been a trouble free run of any LMP H car up to now, and certainly not for Toyo. The issue is not about comparable lap times, it’s the vingt quatre du Mans, not a sprint race, and right now I wouldn’t give Toyo more than even odds.

  6. Mike S

    June 11, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    Let’s see if that 8 minute advantage holds. A lot can happen that’s just 1 major issue and it’s wiped out. It’s a long race. Fastest cars don’t win this thing all the time. Ask Toyota.

  7. FIA/ACOareliars

    June 11, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    Some of you guys can go on about how people are reading the rules wrong, being smug and pompous but the plain fact is that rules that mandate that one particular car be .5 seconds faster than everyone else is a joke.

    They did not say anything like that when they were encouraging the non-hybrid cars to join in.

    • Just another fan

      June 11, 2018 at 7:21 pm

      Would you have liked more if it were 5 seconds instead of 0.5 seconds? The joke is that there is a rule to artificially let cars that are 5 seconds off the real pace get near the front runners in the name of entertainment. I am quite sure that the Aston Martin would be happy with the unfairness in LMP1. They so need to find 5 seconds right now.

  8. WEC iz dum

    June 11, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    the ACO/FIA just need to give Toyota the trophy at the start of the race since its their race to lose anyways.

    Regardless, even if Toyota does ‘win’ it will be empty and meaningless and true motorsports fans will know it was fabricated and all a sham.

    • Toyota_suxz

      June 11, 2018 at 3:59 pm

      lol ’14,’16,& ’17 toyota’s race to lose…….and they didn’t!

      • Toyota_suxz

        June 11, 2018 at 4:00 pm

        I mean they did lose!

  9. Just another fan

    June 11, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    I believe some fans are missing something important. I went to look at Le Mans’ past year from more recent times (since 1950) and the times that small manufacturers/privateers defeated manufacturer oposition were few. The only true garagiste victory I can think of was Jean Rondeau’s effort in 1980 and even that was against privateer’s Porsches 935 and one “not-936” made available to Joest by the factory. Joest won a lot but was very close to the factory (and the suppliers) and so was the Dauer effort. The McLarens? The dominant GT1 racing against against fellow privateers and unreliable prototypes and with factory support. Mirage? A lot of money and talent supporting John Wyer operation against lesser factory competition in the middle of the oil crisis. Maybe Talbot-Lago in 1950 as the entry was made by a privateer but learning more, it almost looked like a factory effort for the time.
    Please prove me wrong but from the looks of things, privateers beating manufacturers at Le Mans is very unusual and it often comes from teams with close ties with manufacturers (Joest). Oreca is indeed close to Toyota but expecting an upset and building too many hopes goes against Le Mans’ history. Isn’t it better to just enjoy the race for what it is and from what it always has been?

  10. Dave

    June 11, 2018 at 9:00 pm

    I’ve said this before in another thread, but I’ll repeat it hear as I think it’s applicable. The HY cars (or Toyota) has push to pass. That’s basically one of the main functions of the HY drive. This is an incredible advantage in the actual race. No other car can do this and it expands the sections of the track where the Toyotas can execute a pass and increases the ease with which they can complete a pass. No one really discusses this ultimate advantage. We are focusing on the shiny object that is the pace in quali which once the race starts loses most of its relevance.

  11. Mike coter

    June 12, 2018 at 2:56 am

    no watch Maldonado take the toyota out of the race and do the privateers a favor

    • Missing the point...

      June 12, 2018 at 8:03 am

      Oh just imagine the meme steam we would enjoy for years to follow if that happened.

  12. Missing the point...

    June 12, 2018 at 8:01 am

    So I’m not sure what this article was actually about, besides getting us to click on it. It seems to me that Jani was just responding to questions that were being pushed on him (probably in response to questions pertaining to whether or not Rebellion can bring the fight to the LMP-1H cars).

    This article makes it look like he was complaining or, at the very least, brought the subject up on his own. Yet all I can pertain from it is his explanation of the rules, why they can’t fight head on with the Toyotas and what type of race the LMP-1NH(s) will be in.

    My point is this; I think everyone here is getting mad about something that Jani *and probably all the privateer teams* aren’t upset about anyway. It’s plain enough to gather that Jani himself isn’t, just by reading the second line of this quote ““Even if we had the pace, we wouldn’t be able to play it,” Jani said. “Anyway, we don’t have the pace to beat them in a straight fight. It’s logic, it’s a manufacturer. We cannot have that pace. We’ll focus on ourselves and see what we can do.””

    He clearly states there that they can’t compete (head on) with the LMP-1H cars and that they weren’t expecting or trying to anyway. Which makes the whole damn article and these arguments points moot.

    Which makes this lead up statement (by the author Jake) even more misleading “It’s thus made non-hybrid teams like Rebellion re-adjust their expectations heading into…” Considering it’s immediately followed by the quote (I posted above) it’s impossible to see where any expectations could have possibly be changed in any way. Their only expectation for beating the Toyotas is what it’s always been, for mechanical problems or human error.

  13. Bill

    June 14, 2018 at 6:05 am

    I was annoyed at first but you have to seriously think about this. If this rule had applied two years ago when Porsche and Audi were in the game, no one would have complained.
    If A non-hybrid had suddenly gained speed over the 3 big hybrid beasts we’d all smell a rat and call them cheats. Now there is only one hybrid we say they’re given an advantage but in real terms if the non-hybrids can somehow beat the pace of the hybrids they probably are cheating.
    I would love to see a privateer team win at Le Mans but Toyota have the better car and shouldn’t be cheated out of a win.

  14. Greeny

    June 16, 2018 at 3:28 am

    I have this strong gut feeling a Rebellion is going to win the race!

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