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Menezes: Rebellion Aiming to Give Toyota “A Hard Time”

Gustavo Menezes expects Rebellion to be force in LMP1, despite limited testing…

Photo: Jakob Ebrey

Gustavo Menezes believes the new Rebellion R13 Gibson can challenge the Toyota TS050 Hybrids for overall podiums in the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship.

The 2016 LMP2 world champion is confident that despite a tight development window, the pair of ORECA-built cars will be capable of running near the front of the LMP1 field.

Rebellion released the first images of its new non-hybrid car,which hasn’t tested yet, at the Geneva Motor Show on Tuesday.

Although it will be the last of the new LMP1 contenders to hit the track, Menezes reckons the package will be fully up to speed by the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, which makes up the second round of the WEC ‘Super Season’.

“Rebellion and ORECA have been working together non-stop all winter and are doing everything in their power to give us the best package possible, and they always come up with a competitive proposition,” said Menezes, who will share the No. 3 car with Thomas Laurent and Mathias Beche.

“Yes, we’re a little bit behind the curve in terms of pre-season testing – the R13 probably won’t roll out until the Prologue test at Paul Ricard early next month, which means the first race at Spa will be quite literally a shakedown for Le Mans – but that is a deliberate tactic.

“I’m confident we will have a quick car underneath us – it looks really aggressive and purposeful.

“Here’s hoping we can really take it to the sister car [of Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani and Bruno Senna] and give the factory Toyota boys a hard time, too.”

The R13 is based on the Oreca 07 LMP2, which claimed titles in both the WEC and European Le Mans Series last season.

Despite those successes, Menezes believes that it will be hard to gauge how Rebellion’s new car will stack up against its rivals before the season starts.

As well as challenging the Toyota hybrids, the R13 will come up against non-hybrid competition from the Ginetta G60-LT-P1 Mecachrome, BR Engineering BR1 AER, and the ByKolles’ ENSO CLM P1/01 NISMO.

“There are inevitably hiccoughs and minor issues with any new car,” said Menezes.

“We want to make sure we are as prepared as we can be before we hit the track because there are so many unknowns out there still, with five different chassis and engine manufacturers in the LMP1 field.

“We won’t truly find out what the pecking order is until we get to the first race weekend.”

Racing Alonso will be “Surreal”

Menezes says the opportunity to compete for wins against two-time Formula 1 world champion and Toyota driver Fernando Alonso will provide a bonus to his LMP1 debut.

The 23-year-old American, who has joined Rebellion after two years with Signatech Alpine, was aged 12 when Alonso won his second F1 title in 2006.

Now Menezes is relishing the prospect of contesting a full WEC season against one of his racing luminaries.

“It will be pretty surreal to be fighting against Fernando,” he said.

“I remember spending the summer with Carlos Sainz Jr. back in my mid-teens. We used to constantly play Formula 1 video games; one of us was always Sebastian Vettel, and the other was Alonso.

“It’s fantastic for the series to have big names like that coming in and there’s no doubting Fernando’s caliber, but as soon as the helmet goes on and the visor comes down, he’s just another driver that I want to beat.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and various electric racing series.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. The Czar

    March 8, 2018 at 10:00 am

    I know this has not been widely reported but the P1 privateers will be allowed a lot more freedom with their aero package than the Toys.

    • Tracklimits

      March 8, 2018 at 11:11 am

      And with almost the double amount of energy to spent they should be able do beat them… at least at Le Mans

  2. Antonio Desmond Miles

    March 8, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    Which brings up that ridiculous penalty the FIA/ACO conjured up. If the privateers are too successful at beating the Toyota Hybrid LMP1’s, they’ll suspect that they were “sandbagging.” You can’t have it both ways! Either they’re slower or faster! They say that the hybrids won’t just run away from the non-hybrids. I suspect with the surge of all the non-hybrid LMP1’s, they figure they’ll have a shot at winning if Toyota can finally WIN Le Mans. But as we all know, they manage to screw it up somehow.

    • TF110

      March 8, 2018 at 6:44 pm

      It’s not a penalty. You fell for a clickbait headline. This RULE has been in place since 2014. It’s made so that teams don’t sandbag in lmp1 to fool the rulemakers on EOT (equivalence of technology). The ACO receives data from the teams so they can set the relevant fuel flows to try to level out the different ‘technologies’, hybrid and non-hybrid in this case.

      • Antonio Desmond Miles

        March 8, 2018 at 8:22 pm

        Okay. Whoops! I should’ve read over those regulations. Thanks for pointing that out. Still, even with the budget and experience Toyota has, I still don’t believe they can win the ONE race that’s eluded them for so long: Le Mans. They have to be several laps down for the non-hybrids to have a realistic chance @ winning and be 6-8 seconds quicker than the fastest LMP2 cars.

  3. Proof Reading Needed

    March 8, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    What’s a Mecachrone? Heard of Mecachrome, but not Mecachrone.

  4. southcove

    March 8, 2018 at 5:52 pm

    Not to be a wise guy and point out the obvious – ‘challenging for overall podiums..’

    Okay, there are only two factory cars, so lets say they take 1-2 in most races, not unthinkable or unlikely. So any of the rest of the P1 non hybrids are challenging for the last spot on the podium, #3. And certainly the Rebellions have a good a chance as any…especially when one of the Toyotas has an issue or a run in with another competitor. So they are all guaranteed a shot each race at a podium, maybe even two shots – something unheard of in the last few years of the WEC.

    Perhaps he meant overall podium wins… and I need to stop drinking so much coffee in the afternoon.

  5. Malthus Underestimated

    March 8, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    I’ll believe a non-hybrid LMP1 will beat the Toyotas to the checkered flag on full race pace (not attrition) when I see it.

    Aside from Toyota’s experience, mature hardware, funding, blah, blah, blah – the ACO/FIA won’t allow a BoP that truly jeopardizes a Toyota Le Mans win.

    That’s not part of the “deal”. Expecting otherwise is simply naïve. The comments from drivers like Menezes or Lotterer etc are merely press pronouncements with plausible “hedging”. They don’t believe they’ll be near the Toyos for anything more than a few laps.

    That’s the facts, Jack.

    • Blaneysellstrashbags@Ring24

      March 9, 2018 at 6:46 pm

      I dont think anyone has said that the privateers will be equal in pace to the Toys. Maybe I have missed it somewhere. But if ya follow Toys at Le Mans you would realize they are not the most reliable team. If the privateer teams can stay on track and not have issues then absolutely they have a good shot at beating the Toys. Ya gotta understand the pace at Le Mans plays a very small role in an overall win. If your in the garage pace in fact means zilch.

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