Gustavo Menezes reckons the elimination of Toyota’s stint length advantage will be “crucial” to putting Rebellion Racing in the frame at this weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Rebellion and ByKolles Racing have benefited from an Equivalence of Technology technical update for the race which has given breaks to the non-hybrid LMP1 cars and added 7 kg of weight to the Toyota TS050 Hybrids.
Compared with last year, the non-hybrids will be able to use more petrol per stint and have larger fuel rig restrictors available to them.
Menezes noted that these tweaks will get Rebellion onto the same stint length as Toyota after the Japanese manufacturer carried a one-lap advantage into the 2019 edition.
But the American driver, who shares the No. 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson with Norman Nato and Bruno Senna, added that Rebellion still “wished for a bit more” of a break in the EoT.
“Honestly, we wanted more,” Menezes told Sportscar365.
“When you look at the advantage Toyota had last year in comparison to us, they were much stronger, although they did have their issues.
“But the stint length was a crucial part of what we needed because it eliminates several stops during the race. When you take the time of the stop, plus the drive through the pits, we’re talking four or five minutes.
“It was a bit of a joke last year so we’re grateful that the ACO has come through to help with that part of the EoT.
“We won’t know until we’re on track, exactly how much we have to work to catch up to the Toyotas. With the success handicap out the window [for Le Mans] we would have wished for a little bit more, but a little bit is better than nothing.”
When asked about Rebellion’s approach to the race this time around, Menezes said that the first priority is to have a clean run through the 24 hours.
Last year both Rebellion cars hit trouble, enabling SMP Racing to claim an overall podium behind the two Toyotas with its No. 17 BR Engineering BR1 AER.
“I think, with Le Mans, the first thing we have to do is finish it,” suggested Menezes.
“The second thing is we do our race as fast as we can. That will give us the best result that we can get. If we start playing head games with Toyota we’ve already lost.
“The only way we can do it is the best race that Rebellion can do, and if we can do that right we’ll get the best result we can get.
“Hopefully it’s on the top but we’ll have to see later on.”
Nato: Rain Deficit Won’t be as Large as Spa
In the event of a wet Le Mans, Rebellion won’t struggle as much in the rain as it did during the Total 6 Hours of Spa, according to Menezes’ co-driver Norman Nato.
Rebellion was significantly off the pace in the previous WEC round, leading to concerns from the team that this deficit could carry over to the 24-hour season headline event.
But Nato downplayed the chances of repeating what he described as a below-par performance at Spa, despite Toyota’s inherent advantage of using four-wheel-drive.
Rain is currently forecast for Saturday night, although so far during the build-up conditions at the Circuit de la Sarthe have been warm and clear.
“Spa was not at the level that we should have been,” Nato told Sportscar365.
“It was small mistakes everywhere and we didn’t have the right tire pressure at the right moment.
“Compared to Toyota we have a disadvantage because they have four-wheel-drive, but at Spa we didn’t do everything perfectly and that’s why we were so far away.
“It was not our [expected] level. At Spa the mistakes we made cost us a lot of time. If it’s raining, I don’t say we are going to go as fast as Toyota, but I expect us to be a bit closer.”