Rebellion Racing is entering the new FIA World Endurance Championship season with a “better overall understanding” of its LMP1 car, according to team manager Bart Hayden.
Despite deriving from the LMP2-spec Oreca 07, the Rebellion R13 Gibson was a new package when it debuted at Spa 15 months ago, while its most recent visit to Silverstone this time last year was only its third race.
Hayden told Sportscar365 ahead of the car’s sophomore season that while no major technical changes have been made, the team is arriving at Silverstone with more confidence.
“The high-downforce aero is pretty much what we had last year so there’s not a huge amount of development that’s gone in on that,” he said.
“What we do have is a better overall understanding of the car compared to one year ago when we were here.
“We had quite a tricky car here last year, and we’ve calmed that right down. The drivers are a lot happier. The resurfacing has helped as well. Generally, a year on, we’re a lot happier.”
Hayden said the new Silverstone track surface, which was laid down in time for last weekend’s MotoGP British Grand Prix, has helped alleviate the issues that Rebellion struggled with during last year’s race.
“The car was quite bouncy last year, and I think that was exacerbated by the bumps,” he explained.
“It made the car quite uncomfortable and tricky to drive. Now with the smoother track, it’s not triggering any nastiness in the car, so it’s a big step forward in the level of comfort behind the wheel.”
Rebellion ended up winning last year’s Silverstone round after the post-event exclusion of both Toyota TS050 Hybrids, which dominated to finish 1-2 on the road.
But the Swiss team’s manager reckons the R13s can provide a genuine on-track fight to the Japanese manufacturer in the wake of a recent Equivalence of Technology change.
Toyota is running with an additional 14 kg at Silverstone, which was added on to the 14 kg increase it received ahead of the pre-season Prologue test in Barcelona.
“Looking at pace in Free Practice 2, it was like Noah’s Ark, two by two,” said Hayden.
“The gaps between us are anything from half to three-quarters of a second, so I think it’s going to be tight.
“I think we’re looking forward more than behind at the minute, so in other words, we’re focusing more on Toyota than Ginetta. But I think everyone’s going to be giving it their best shot.
“Hopefully [the EoT change] will be enough. Obviously we have the additional success ballast to consider, so if it’s not quite enough now, as the races go on it should become enough.
“I think that it’s much more interesting as a starting point. I think Toyota hope that we can have some interesting races together. Hopefully, that will be the case.”