Rebellion Racing’s drivers will be able to use the “complete potential” of the team’s LMP1 car in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a new low-downforce kit installed, according to team principal Bart Hayden.
The pair of Rebellion R13 Gibsons ran an early version of the low-downforce configuration at Le Mans last year, just a few weeks into the start of the program, but will have a more developed kit at their disposal this time around.
Hayden said that the new bodywork, which debuted in the opening practice session of last weekend’s Six Hours of Spa, should give the team’s drivers more confidence in the Porsche Curves and other high-speed cornering sections of the Circuit de la Sarthe.
“We were running on the Le Mans aero kit for Spa as well [at the start of the season] because we didn’t actually develop the higher downforce until after Le Mans,” Hayden told Sportscar365.
“We ran Le Mans aero on the R13 from the beginning. At Le Mans, one of the things that we wanted to try and achieve this year was a bit more top speed because we had almost too much downforce.
“The new kit is aimed at squarely getting us some more top speed. We ran it at Aragon [in testing] and it seemed to be giving the numbers.”
Hayden said the previous version of Rebellion’s low-downforce kit was nearly “too good” in the high speed cornering sections of the 8.5-mile Le Mans circuit.
“When we went to Le Mans last year we almost had a car that was too good in the Porsche Curves and other high-downforce sections of the track, to the point where the drivers – even on a clear run – couldn’t properly exploit the potential that was there,” he explained.
“More often than not, you encounter traffic in those areas anyway. So the car was almost too good, even for a clear track.
“It struggled a bit in the traffic. Hopefully now with the changes, getting through the traffic should be a bit easier and the drivers will really be able to use the complete potential of the car.
“I don’t know whether the lap time will be a lot different because when you gain on one thing, you lose on another.
“But maybe overall the stint average will be better because we’re cleaner through traffic and those kinds of things.”
Rebellion driver Gustavo Menezes, who is sharing the No. 3 car with Thomas Laurent and Nathanael Berthon at Le Mans, felt the team made the right decision to opt for its high-downforce kit at Spa.
After starting the Spa weekend with its new-look bodywork, Rebellion reverted to its usual high-downforce trim as poor weather made driving conditions increasingly difficult.
During its limited run time the new configuration did manage to generate the fastest speed trap figure of the LMP1 field during the weekend, with Laurent clocking in at 202.8 mph (326.4 km/h) in FP1.
Rebellion went on to finish second and fifth in the snow-affected contest, with the R13s sandwiching the pair of SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1 AERs in the results.
“After the first Free Practice we knew that the new Le Mans package wasn’t the one for Spa, and we adapted,” Menezes told Sportscar365.
“In the past, we’ve been a bit on the back foot throughout the weekend but in [Spa] qualifying we did find the balance and the setup that we needed and it gave us a little bit of confidence going into the race.
“All we can do now is regroup and work harder, and hopefully go to Le Mans with a bit more of an edge.”