Rebellion Racing’s Bruno Senna felt that he should have shut the door on Charlie Robertson’s Ginetta to avoid the pair colliding at the start of the 8 Hours of Bahrain.
Robertson, who started second, ran side-by-side with Senna into the heavy-braking Turn 1 right-hander before the pair came to blows at the Turn 2 left-hand kink.
The incident dropped the Rebellion R13 Gibson, which Senna shared with Gustavo Menezes and Norman Nato, down to 25th overall but Senna managed to recover and work his way past the LMP2 field after 25 minutes.
However, an issue with the car’s electronic shifting system ultimately forced it off the lead lap and out of contention for the race win.
“I had a good start and controlled everything into Turn 1,” Senna told Sportscar365.
“Being an eight-hour race, I didn’t squeeze him off completely. I left him some room so he could come behind me out of Turn 2, but he just tried to take me into Turn 2 on the dirt which is not possible.
“He lost the car and crashed into me, so now I regret giving him any racing room. I should have just pushed him off the track, but I didn’t, so I paid for that.”
Senna suspected that his clash might have played a part in destabilizing the Rebellion’s internals which led to its lengthy repair stop for the E-shift failure in the third hour.
A similar problem with the gearbox befell the No. 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson early on during last season’s 1000 Miles of Sebring.
“A bracket broke,” said the Brazilian. “Clearly, it’s from shock. I don’t know if it’s from some curb or something else, but we haven’t been doing anything different apart from the shock we had in Turn 2.
“I can’t say for sure [what it was] but we haven’t had this issue for a long time now and it strangely happened right now.”
Rebellion Racing team manager Bart Hayden, however, downplayed the impact of the opening-lap collision.
“It’s possible [that the incidents were linked] but I think it’s probably a remote possibility,” Hayden told Sportscar365.
“The E-shift motor is on the other side of the gearbox to the side that got hit. You never know, but I think that if we’re candid about it then probably not.
“I think, without the first corner incident and the E-shift thing, we would have been in a real fight. It would have been in no way a walkover for us. we would have had to be on our A-game to win.”
Menezes: Victory was Still an Option After Lap 1
Senna’s co-driver Menezes believed that without the E-shift problem, the team would have had a chance to salvage the time it lost through the Turn 1-2 contact.
“We were over a minute behind the Toyota after the impact,” the American driver told Sportscar365.
“We were 30 seconds behind when I was in the car for my first stint. I don’t think it would have taken more than three hours of the race distance to fight with them.
“We had no doubt that the gap would have been closed. Where would we have been, at the front or the back of it? That’s a different question.
“But I’m confident that we would have at least had the chance to fight for the race win.”
John Dagys & Slade Perrins contributed to this report