Rebellion Racing looks set to return to the top class of the FIA World Endurance Championship, with a LMP1 program being finalized for the 2018/19 season. (En Français)
The Anglo-Swiss squad, which won the WEC LMP2 title this year, is poised to reverse its initial plans of a two-year commitment to the class, in favor of rejoining the LMP1 ranks amid a rejuvenated grid of privateer entries.
Team manager Bart Hayden told Sportscar365 in Bahrain that a decision would come this month, and could be made official as early as Wednesday, during its end-of-year party in Switzerland.
It’s understood the team is likely to remain with an Oreca-Gibson package, but with both chassis and engine upstaged to LMP1 specifications.
An ORECA spokesperson told Sportscar365 last week that it continues to work on its proposed LMP1 concept and is waiting on the “right time” to move ahead with its plans, whether it’s in time for the 2018/19 ‘Super Season’ or later.
Gibson, meanwhile, has already announced it will build a 4.5-liter version of its LMP2 engine, with DragonSpeed having been the first confirmed customer for its new BR Engineering BR1 effort.
Should Rebellion firm up its plans, it would join an ever-growing list of privateers set to take on the class next year.
SMP Racing has committed to a pair of BR1 AER prototypes, alongside a Ginetta from Manor TRS Racing, the returning ByKolles CLM P1/01 NISMO, as well as DragonSpeed’s new effort.
Jani, Lotterer Linked to Seats
A number of drivers have already been linked to Rebellion’s LMP1 return, including Porsche LMP1 aces Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer.
Auto Hebdo reported last week that the two drivers could join Bruno Senna and Mathias Beche behind the wheel, with 2016 LMP2 World Champion Gustavo Menezes, who drove for the team at Motul Petit Le Mans, reportedly in the frame as well.
Thomas Laurent, who starred in his rookie LMP2 season with Jackie Chan DC Racing, could also make the step up to LMP1.
While it would mark three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer’s debut with the team, Jani has long been a Rebellion driver, having driven for the team as recently as this year’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, where he scored pole.