Rebellion Racing has not ruled out running two cars for the entire 2019-20 FIA World Endurance Championship season despite it looking increasingly unlikely due to budget concerns, according to Rebellion CEO Calim Bouhadra.
The Swiss squad, which is present at this week’s Prologue at Barcelona with two Rebellion R13 Gibsons, will be evaluating five drivers at the pre-season test.
Reigning IMSA Prototype champion Felipe Nasr along with GP2-turned sports car ace Norman Nato have joined Rebellion regulars Gustavo Menezes, Nathanael Berthon and Bruno Senna are all present for the two days of running.
Bouhadra stressed that the outcome of the Prologue will help determine the lineup.
“We’re evaluating the capacity of my drivers, all the motivation and quality of the drivers. Like every year, I have a contract and I never validate any lineup before the first run,” Bouhadra told Sportscar365.
“At first we need to know if we will have one or two cars. This is something I have to discuss with the ACO and evaluate my budgets.
“We’re still discussing with some partners. This is my main concern today in Barcelona.
“After I know the number of cars to put in Silverstone, we have to figure out which lineup will be the best one.”
While only appearing with a single Rebellion on the provisional Silverstone entry list, Bouhadra said they’re “still discussing” with the ACO on the prospects of a second car.
Rebellion had registered two full-season entries for the 2019-20 season and Bouhadra indicated intentions of running both cars for the Six Hours of Spa and 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“We have a probability to do just one car [for the full season] right now,” he said. “I cross my fingers and continue to discuss with everyone to make up two cars.
“But to be honest, it’s really difficult. I don’t want to give up one month before Silverstone, but it is right now difficult.”
Bouhadra explained the difficulty has been down to sponsors and partners not wanting to commit to the final season of the LMP1-based formula, which is again expected to see Toyota with a performance advantage.
It comes despite a new “handicap” system set to be rolled out to the LMP1 class this season.
“We’re at the end of a circle and we are starting a new circle,” he said. “This new circle is Hypercar and I’m really hoping to plan something for Rebellion in these new regulations.
“There’s a lot of partners and sponsors that are preferring to wait until 2020 than giving any money for 2019. For us, it’s really an economical matter.
“The reason I want to seriously discuss with the ACO and the WEC is because for us it’s difficult to find a partner.
“We knew that with the EoT and regulations done right now, we know that if Toyota don’t have any problems, it’s impossible for a privateer to win the race. This has not helped us with the partners.
“The partners are not interested in finishing third.”
SMP’s Withdrawal Impacted Rebellion’s Program
Bouhadra said SMP Racing’s sudden withdrawal from LMP1 competition came as a “surprise” and “disappointment” to Rebellion, which is now left with limited competition in the non-hybrid ranks.
“I said it to the SMP team manager and I’ve said it to the ACO and WEC,” Bouhadra said. “Yeah it’s for sure a disappointment to us.
“It surprised me at first. I didn’t expect they would [leave].
“At Le Mans they did a super, crazy job. They had more reliability with the engine because it was one of the issues they had from the beginning.
“The car was looking really competitive and most of this, the team started to be at the same level as us.
“For sure today I want to compete against Toyota but I know this is not possible. Who is my competitor honestly?
“I don’t want to say bad things about Ginetta but they are new. Everything is new. We have one ‘Super Season’ experience. We have our experience with the ORECA team and the chassis that we have here.
“We have lots of parameters that makes me comfortable with the Gibson engine.”