Rebellion Racing’s Nico Prost has given the new Rebellion R-One high marks ahead of its race debut in this weekend’s FIA WEC Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
The 32-year-old Frenchman, along with co-drivers Nick Heidfeld and Mathias Beche had completed the majority of the testing of the ORECA-built LMP1-L car at Paul Ricard prior to its public debut this week.
“The first feeling of the car was very good, both in terms of setup and reliability,” Prost told Sportscar365. “We need a bit more testing.
“Reliability-wise, we had a lot of small problems but things you could solve very easily. There were no major problems, nothing like suspension, gearbox, transmission, so that was good.
“We spent some time working on the setup and really understand how it’s working with the difference between the aero that you see in CFD and in the wind tunnel and the aero you see on track.
“I think this weekend is more like a test session. But I really think we can be quite ready for Le Mans.”
Prost, who has driven a various iterations of the Lola coupe since joining the Anglo-Swiss squad in 2009, has already sensed the R-One to be significantly different, largely due to the new-for-2014 LMP1 regulations.
“It’s a much more advanced car,” he said. “It’s much more reactive. The weight distribution is much better. It’s much more centered and lower. It’s a big step forward.
“The reactions of the car is very good and it’s a different philosophy. At the moment, it’s a Le Mans [aero] car. It has low downforce.
“The feeling for me is very positive but you also feel that it’s very new. We need to work on the setup and the development of the car. I think we’re really bullish for the future at the moment.”
While being the only LMP1-L team at Spa, Rebellion is treating this weekend’s round as an extended test, having only completed less than 600 miles of testing between the two Toyota-powered cars.
“I think this weekend we have to be very safe and very realistic about the objective,” Prost said. “If we can get both cars to the finish, that would be like a win for the team. If we can learn a lot and we have a lot of testing coming [later this month].
“So if we can prepare well this weekend, learn a lot about it and then do some good testing, I think we’ll have a good chance of coming prepared to Le Mans.”