Finishing third and fourth was the best result Rebellion Racing could have achieved in the 24 Hours of Le Mans amid several reliability issues, according to team manager Bart Hayden.
The pair of Rebellion R13 Gibsons were consistently the quickest non-hybrid LMP1 cars throughout the race but, as expected per the regulations, were unable to match the pace of the race-winning Toyota TS050 Hybrids.
Reliability issues struck all of the non-hybrid LMP1 cars, and with the Swiss squad having its share of problems in its return to the top class at Le Mans, it still got both cars to the finish to score its first-ever overall Le Mans podium.
“We got both of our cars to the finish,” Hayden said. “We finished P3 and P4 which feels like P1 and P2. We absolutely did everything we could.
“We didn’t have the smoothest of races but we kind of did the best we could and I think it’s not bad going.
“We had our own challenges during that race. We did seem to have to bring the car into the box on a number of occasions.”
The No. 3 Rebellion of Thomas Laurent, Gustavo Menezes and Mathias Beche came home in third, 12 laps down on the lead Toyota, while the No. 1 car was a further lap back driven by Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani and Bruno Senna.
The eventual third-place finishing car had two trips to the garage in the early morning, including one to repair its floor, while the No. 1 car had several issues throughout the race.
A spin at the Dunlop Chicane on the first lap forced Lotterer to pit to replace the nose while the car later had to be brought back in to fix the clutch pressure sensor before a floor issue brought it back into the pits.
Late in the race, the No. 1 ORECA-built car was given two ten-second stop-and-hold penalties for exceeding fuel usage when the car completed 11 laps instead of the permitted maximum 10-lap stints for non-hybrids.
Hayden reckons that the team’s 12-lap deficit to Toyota was at least partially down to these mechanical and reliability problems rather than the regulations.
“That’s not so much the regulation that is the 12 laps,” he said. “A lot of that 12 laps is us having little mistakes really.
“Where it would have been if we had had a clean run, I don’t know, but it wouldn’t have been 12 laps. Maybe six.”
Toyota “Surprised” by Non-Hybrid Pace
Toyota Gazoo Racing technical director Pascal Vasselon says he was “surprised” by the pace shown by the non-hybrids in the race, which showed reduced performance compared to qualifying.
His expectations were based on the Test Day performance, which saw a Rebellion split the Toyota TS050 Hybrids on the time sheets.
Sebastien Buemi set the quickest race lap during the opening stint with a 3:17.658, while the best single-lap pace from a non-hybrid car was a 3:20.046, recorded by Neel Jani in the No. 1 Rebellion.
“We have been a bit surprised,” Vasselon told Sportscar365.
“Considering the performance we had seen at the test day, the race pace of the non-hybrid cars has been a bit of a surprise.”