24 HEURES DU MANS : REBELLION RACING CAR #12 FINISHES AS THE FIRST PLACED LMP PETROL CAR !
Nicolas Prost, Neel Jani and Jeroen Bleekemolen drove their #12 Lola-Toyota to the checkered flag in sixth place overall after a race that will go down in history as one of the most epic editions of the Le Mans 24 hours. In this race, where everybody was ready for the « annual fight », some of the strongest competitors saw their cars lost before the end. The Audi effort was struck before the dawn broke on Sunday morning as two of their three cars suffered spectacular car destroying crashes, REBELLION Racing themselves lost their car #13 in a heavy crash during the night where, fortunately, Jean-Christophe Boullion who was driving at the time was not injured. The Oreca Peugeot had two trips off track but was able to rejoin the race after two quick stops for repairs and the Pescarolo team lost its car #16 in another crash only two hours from the end of the race.
Driving up to the four hour limit in their individual turns behind the wheel, Rebellion’s younger trio of drivers demonstrated the same reliability and pace that their car, powered by a remarkable strong and efficient Toyota engine showed to achieve the first place of the LMP petrol cars.
This result, that is the best that the Swiss team could have expected due to the current regulations and equivalences, demonstrates that REBELLION Racing have made huge progress and proven their ability to race at a higher level. It is a fantastic reward for all the team members and drivers who have put in so much effort since the start of the 2011 season. It is a memorable achievement that feels to us like a real victory for Rebellion Timepieces and all the team’s partners including Toyota Motorsport GmbH, Lola Cars International and Michelin tyres.
At this time of celebration in a hard earned but fabulous result, we also have deep thoughs for Hugh Hayden, father of Bart Hayden and founder of Sebah Automotive in 1995 who passed away last year, just a few days after the Toyota engine was tested for the first time in one of the team’s Lolas. We are proud to dedicate this Le Mans result to the memory of Hugh.
2011 24 HEURES DU MANS – QUALIFYING SESSION
« LMP1 PETROL CAR POLE POSITION » FOR REBELLION RACING
Neel Jani in Lola-Toyota N°12 secured the first place non diesel car in the third and final qualification session for the 2011 24 hours of Le Mans. With a lap time of 3'32''883, the Swiss driver also secured 8th position overall on the grid.
Andrea Belicchi in Lola-Toyota N°13 couldn't do better than the 10th overall fastest lap after being hindered by traffic during his qualifying laps.
Neel Jani, driver of Lola-Toyota #12
« After yesterday's test sessions, we have improved the car a lot. I have made my best lap time because of good sector 1 and 3. Despite having traffic in sector 2, I was able to bank a good lap. I'm really happy to get the « pole position » of petrol cars because the Pescarolo car is very strong here, in particular with a higher top speed than our Rebellions on the straights. I'm happy for all the Rebellion team who worked hard for that. All three of the drivers in our car will do our best to get the same result at the end of the race... »
Andrea Belicchi, driver of Lola-Toyota #13
« I had traffic during my quick laps. So I couldn't made a good qualifying lap at the level of the improvement that we made on the car. But I'm pleased with the work we've done on the car. I'm very confident for the race ».
Bart Hayden, Rebellion Racing Team Manager
« We spent most of the free practice and qualifying sessions working to find a good race set up for our cars. Pescarolo pushed us really hard for the petrol pole, so we are very happy to secure the fastest petrol grid position. Hopefully, the setup work that we've carried out will help translate into a good race result, we are very much looking forward to the race now.».
How to identify at a glance both Lola-Toyota cars in the dark ?
Lola-Toyota #12 has green leds on the top of the windscreen and blue leds for #13.
1000 KM OF SPA : REBELLION RACING CONSOLIDATES ITS POSITIONS IN BOTH ILMC & LMS CHAMPIONSHIPS.
After a very strong race, the two cars of Rebellion Racing, Lolas-Toyota #12 & #13 finished in 7th and 9th place in the 1000 km of Spa-Francorchamps. The « virtual first » petrol car position was missed because of damaged bodywork issues that forced both cars to lose precious time in the pits. Nevertheless, Rebellion Racing scored valuable points for both ILMC and LMS championships.
First petrol car on the grid with Lola-Toyota #12, Nicolas Prost started the race from the 3rd row. After his first scheduled pitstop, Nico had to stop again to replace the rear-end of the car after a contact with a GT in Eau Rouge. With total commitment, the two drivers, Neel Jani and Nicolas Prost, were able to recover to 7th place overall, half a lap behind #16, which was the first petrol car.
Starting from the back of the grid, Andrea Belicchi in Lola-Toyota #13 had a very good opening double stint and went from 50th to 11th place. Jean-Christophe Boullion continued the effort but was forced to stop twice due to official marshall's decision to repair the left rear end of the bodywork of the car. At the end of the race, #13 was passed by a recovering Peugeot #9 and finished in 9th place.
Bart Hayden, Team Manager :
« Appart from some minor bodywork issues following little knocks in the traffic, both cars ran faultlessly and showed strong mechanical reliability. With Le Mans 24 Hours in only four weeks time, this is the main positive that we take from this week-end.
The final classification could have been slightly better for both cars but the points they have scored today in both the ILMC and LMS championships are very important. In ILMC, we have strenghened our fourth place in the Teams' Classification and the first petrol car team. In LMS, we are strongly in a position to contest for the championship win in both Teams' and Drivers' Classifications. In the LMS Manufacturers' Championship, we have extended Lola-Toyota's lead. The team have shown this week-end their professionalism, skill and ability in the face of difficulties, like having to rebuild the car overnight on day one. »
Nicolas Prost, Lola-Toyota #12 :
«We had a litle lack of luck today. Because of the trafic, the contact with the Ferrari was unaviodable. Neel and I did a very good race. With our good position on the grid and our pace during the race, we have shown that we have the faster petrol car. Both Rebellion Racing cars were reliable and scored good points today.»
Neel Jani, Lola-Toyota #12 :
« In a way, I have the same feeling that I had at the 6 Hours of Le Castellet. We have the fastest petrol car but we haven't finished in the position of the first petrol car. We had a problem with the bodywork at the rear-end of the car that cost us the best result we could have expected. I'm satisfied by our race, but not by the result. »
Jean-Christophe Boullion, Lola-Toyota #13 :
«Once again, we have missed a good result because of a detail. I'm not satisfied by finishing in the 9th place. Of course we did a strong race but it was not enough. I'm sure that we can have better result in the forthcoming races.»
Andrea Belicchi, Lola-Toyota #13 :
« We are happy because we have finished the race without a mistake. We had a problem with bodywork that's why we lost our good position. Anyway, that's the race. After the Thursday crash, we were not expecting to be in position to score good points for the championship. The team did fantastically well to repair the car, they deserved a decent result !»
A PODIUM FINISH BUT NOT THE HOPED FOR GLORY FOR REBELLION RACING AT LMS 6 HOURS OF LE CASTELLET
After good performances in free practice and the pole position secured by Neel Jani, the REBELLION Racing team had high hopes of victory at the 6 hours of Le Castellet, the first round of the 2011 Le Mans Series.
In the early laps, Neel Jani, driving the Lola-Toyota #12 kept the lead and quickly extended an advantage over the next car. But after half an hour of the race, Neel found himself unable to select any gears and the car was stuck in 5th. The Lola-Toyota was forced to come back to the pits to have the gearshift air compressor replaced. During the repair, Nicolas Prost took over behind the wheel and the car rejoined 12 laps behind the leader. Despite repeatedly posting the fastest lap, Nicolas and Neel were unable to catch up to the lead lap, although they had a good comeback drive from 28th to 7th position and in the process reduced the deficit by 2 laps to the victorious Pescarolo car. Nicolas Prost was credited with the fastest lap of 1'47''465 (vs 1'48''367 for Emmanuel Collard in the Pescarolo #16 race winning car).
Starting from the third position on the grid, the Lola-Toyota #13 car was also struck by bad luck. Jean-Christophe Boullion had a spin in the first racing lap when the driver’s side door unexpectedly came open. After pitting to get the door closed, the car rejoined, and Jean-Christophe Boullion began to recover ground. But he had to stop again when the door came open again, and some time was lost in trying to more effectively secure the door. Jean-Christophe Boullion and Andrea Belicchi attacked relentlessly throughout the rest of the race rising to second place by the half way stage, two laps behind the leader. The Lola-Toyota #13 took the chequered flag in 2nd place, one lap behind the winning Pescarolo. Whilst pleased to be on the podium, REBELLION Racing felt some disappointment that the pace shown by both their cars didn’t convert to the hoped for victory in the race. But at least the consolation is that both of the Swiss team’s Lola-Toyota cars finished on the LMP1 podium, scoring important points for the championship.
Bart Hayden REBELLION Racing Team manager : "The final race results of this weekend weren’t what we hoped for or expected. Although the ultimate success was not on our side, at least we can draw some satisfaction from the performance of our two cars. Thus, despite the disappointment of having missed the win, the team is not disheartened, but rather happy to know that we really do have a potentially winning package. The Toyota engine has once again proved its reliability and performance. We will have a new aero package for the next races, to help us rise to a higher level in our progression."
Jean-Christophe Bouillon – Lola-Toyota 13 : "We are obviously disappointed not to win the race. We lost our chance because of a quite unexpected problem with the door, which is annoying, but that's racing. I am still very satisfied with the work accomplished on the car this weekend. Aside from this rare technical problem, we have not had any serious mechanical problems and the car is now very enjoyable to drive, which bodes well for the rest of the championship."
Andrea Belicchi – Lola-Toyota 13 : "Given the performance achieved during testing and our strategy, our only goal was to win. Everyone will understand that the race did not go as we had hoped. However, we scored valuable championship points, which is ultimately a good start to the season for us. "
Neel Jani – Lola-Toyota 12 : "Yesterday was very good for us (first pole position for REBELLION Racing). We were the fastest car on the track today, but a technical glitch denied us the victory. We're obviously disappointed. What is needed now is to win."
Nicolas Prost – Lola-Toyota 12 : "I am proud of the work that we have conducted with Neel. We have proved over the weekend that our car was very fast. For the team, it reinforces our confidence in the real potential of our cars. We must now address some issues with our technical partners to avoid jeopardising potential wins. "
POLE POSITION FOR NEEL JANI AND REBELLION RACING AT LMS 6 HOURS OF LE CASTELLET
In a thrilling qualifying session with no less than 8 changes of the pole-sitter, Neel Jani secured the pole position in the dying seconds of the session with a time of 1'46''783. This is the first pole position in the REBELLION Racing team's young career in the top flight LMP1 category of endurance racing.
This first place on the starting grid of the 6 Hours of Le Castellet is a very promising start to the European season for the Swiss team, and is a result that validates the efforts made over several seasons to bring REBELLION Racing to the front of the grid. It rewards the work done during the off-season by the whole team and Toyota Motorsport.
Jean-Christophe Boullion, in car #13, which was using a different set-up configuration compared to the #12 sister car, set the fourth fastest time with a lap of 1'48''491.
Neel Jani, delighted with his first Pole: "This is a good start for the 2011 season. We changed a lot about the car since last season. The Toyota engine is a very strong addition to our new technical package. We now have 6 hours of racing to be done to know if the set-up choices we have made turn out to be good. There is not much lap-time difference between the cars, it will be a highly contested race."
The start of the 6 Hours of Le Castellet will be tomorrow, Sunday 3 April at 12:00.
LMS 6 HOURS OF LE CASTELLET : REBELLION RACING WILL TARGET THE WIN
REBELLION Racing is heading to the first round of 2011 Le Mans Series with confidence and high determination.
After a positive start of the season, the team expect solid results from both Lola-Toyota LMP1 cars. At Sebring 12 Hours both the car and the new Toyota engine have proved good reliability and the team’s Lola-Toyota were quickest in both days of the Le Mans Series test days earlier this month.
REBELLION Racing will look for the win at 6 Hours of Le Castellet at Paul Ricard HTTT.
In the south of France, the Swiss team will face a strong opposition. Aston Martin Racing will introduce their new AMR-One LMP1 car ; the Le Mans Series 2011 opener will see the comeback of two-time LMS champion Pescarolo Team and former LMP2 LMS champions Quifel-ASM launching in LMP1.
Bart Hayden, REBELLION Racing Team Manager : « At Sebring, our main goal was to have the car crossing the finish line with an acceptable classification. One this point we have reached the target.
For the race here at Paul Ricard HTTT and for the Le Mans Series championship our target is the win ! This will not be easy with Aston Martin Racing and Pescarolo Team as our main competitors for this race but I know that both driver pairings and their crews are ready and very motivated right now.»