Gustavo Menezes says Rebellion Racing “deserved” its maiden FIA World Endurance Championship overall victory at Silverstone, albeit it unusual fashion.
Menezes, Mathias Beche and Thomas Laurent were crowned winners in their No. 3 Rebellion R13 Gibson after post-race disqualifications for both Toyota TS050 Hybrids.
All three drivers notched up their first LMP1 victories, while Menezes became the first American driver to reach the top step of the WEC podium outright.
The No. 3 car finished four laps down on the pair of Toyotas, but both of the hybrid-powered cars were later excluded for skid block irregularities.
That change also promoted the sister No. 1 Rebellion driven by Andre Lotterer and Neel Jani to second, while the No. 17 BR Engineering BR1 AER classified third overall.
“Obviously it wasn’t the ideal way to do it, but ultimately, winning a race is winning a race, no matter how it comes and we will grab this result with both hands,” said Menezes.
“All the boys at Rebellion have worked so hard to get the whole LMP1 project off the ground and to develop the car to the stage where it is now, and they really deserve this one-two finish.
“I’m immensely proud of everybody involved in the program.”
Menezes explained that the No. 3 crew twice needed to come back from setbacks to beat the other non-hybrids.
At the start, Beche was in the car when it was tapped into a spin along with the No. 17 SMP entry driven at the time by Stephane Sarrazin.
The Swiss driver then almost collided with the sister Rebellion car which was swerving in avoidance, dropping all three cars to the rear of the LMP1 pack.
“The race certainly wasn’t without its dramas and setbacks for us, from the contact at the start to the safety car appearance midway through that threatened to derail our podium challenge altogether,” said Menezes.
“That was hugely frustrating. I was in the car at the time and making inroads into the battle for third, when the leading Toyota went by to lap us literally seconds before a Full Course Yellow was thrown, which left us virtually an entire lap behind the two cars ahead.
“After that, I had no choice but to get my head down and push like hell.”
The Rebellions swapped places in the final 15 minutes when the No. 1 car picked up a problem with one of its rear lights and requiring a rear-deck change, enabling the No. 3 to come through ahead.
EoT Regs “Aren’t Where they Need to Be”
Menezes has suggested the rules balancing the hybrid and non-hybrid LMP1 cars still need improvement, despite Rebellion’s win.
“The Equivalence of Technology regulations still evidently aren’t where they need to be,” he said.
“But all we can do is keep performing to the best of our ability and hope the FIA and ACO address the situation.
“Ultimately, we know we gave it absolutely everything at Silverstone and to have fought through the field from the back of the pack to win the race is nothing short of mind-blowing.”