Back to back petrol win at Le Mans 24 Hours, 4th place overall, only team to break Audi domination at 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours, both of the team’s cars finished the race, 1st and 3rd in LMP1 Privateer FIA WEC Trophy, Team extends its lead in the FIA WEC Trophy for LMP1 Privateer teams
SECOND PETROL WIN IN A ROW FOR REBELLION RACING AND 4TH PLACE OVERALL BREAKING THE AUDI STANGLEHOLD.
REBELLION Racing repeated their success of the previous year by finishing the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours as the highest placed petrol powered car.
REBELLION Racing’s Lola-Toyota cars topped the Petrol/Privateer field from the start of the race. The Lola-Toyota #12 driven by Nick Heidfeld, Neel Jani and Nicolas Prost and the #13 sister car driven by Andrea Belicchi, Harold Primat and Jeroen Bleekemolen were never out the top 8 (including the six Audi and Toyota factory cars) during the first four hours of the race.
With mechanical and traffic issues for the factory cars, the two iconic black and gold livered Lola-Toyota coupés were strongly positioned in the top 6 from the sixth hour.
After the early retirement of both factory Toyota TS030 Hybrids from Toyota Racing, Rebellion Racing with their two Lola-Toyota petrol powered coupés was the only team to break the Audi stranglehold with car #12 running 4th from the seventh hour.
The night was trouble free for both of the team’s Lola-Toyota cars, the drivers were able to drive strong and long stints. When the sun was back shinning on the famous Le Mans circuit in the morning, car #12 was still firmly holding fourth place overall resisting the assault from the recovering #3 Audi R18 Ultra.
The #13 sister car had to let the #3 Audi past during the night, as it was starting to have clutch issues. The Lola-Toyota #13 was fifth overall from the seventh hour of the race.
With seven hours and nine minutes remaining in the race the #3 Audi finally overtook the #12 Lola-Toyota. Both of the team’s Lola-Toyota cars then looked set on finishing the race in fifth and sixth place but more drama was ahead. With only five hours to go, the Lola-Toyota #13 car was pushed back into it’s garage, the team being forced into replacing the clutch, an intervention that required the disassembly of the rear end of the car. Only 37 minutes later the car was sent back out on track, finding itself in P11 overall, fourth amongst the LMP1 petrol/privateers. At the 21 hour mark, the #3 Audi R18 Ultra crashed for the second time in the race at the first chicane, then a minute later the #2 Audi E-Tron crashed in the Porsche curves forcing both cars to be repaired in their respective boxes.
The Lola-Toyota #12 advanced again to P4, with #3 Audi R18 Ultra now fifth.
The final two hours of the race were intense for the Swiss team. The Lola-Toyota #13 with Harold Primat and Andrea Belicchi driving the remaining stints was able to overhaul the #21 HPD-Honda to claim the third step of the FIA WEC Privateer Trophy podium. There was also a strong battle between the #3 Audi R18 Ultra and the #12 Lola-Toyota. The Audi camp looking for a total Le Mans 24 clean-sweep asked #3 drivers to push in order to have their four cars in the four first positions. Géné and Duval posted fastest intermediate times and fastest laptimes with Duval setting the fastest laptime of the race, but Neel Jani was able to respond to the pressure by lapping in the same mode and beating the fastest previous times for the #12 car and even bettering his own qualifying laptime ! Nicolas Prost replaced Neel for the last stint and with continued determination secured fourth place at the chequered flag.
Repeating 2011’s result was a minimum target for REBELLION Racing, the team actually bettered last year’s overall result by finishing in 4th place (they were 6th overall in 2011). This result, which was the best that the Swiss team could have hoped for under the current regulations and equivalences, confirms that the 2011 and recent successes at Le Mans 24 Hours, in the Le Mans Series and the FIA WEC were not just fortunate events. REBELLION Racing have proven once again their ability to race at the highest level of Endurance. It is a fantastic reward for all the team members and drivers who have put in so much effort since the start of the season.
When REBELLION Racing entered into their partnership with Toyota Motorsport GmbH the team took a significant step forward. The performance and reliability of the Toyota RV8KLM engine is a major asset in the team’s recent results and at this year’s edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Michelin have been an invaluable partner for REBELLION Racing and our cars have benefitted from using their tyres which enabled us to put together long stints without needing to be change the tyres and also providing the grip to help us set competitive laptimes throughout the race.
At this time of celebration of a hard earned result and a historic one for Lola Cars, the whole team also have thoughts for our friends who were at Lola and who were in charge of designing and producing the cars for the team.
Bart Hayden, REBELLION Racing Team Manager
« REBELLION Racing have been on an evolving journey since those early days in 2008 and to secure 4th place overall at the Le Mans 24 Hours in amongst the Audi factory cars is a massive result! It is just reward for the immense effort, contribution, dedication and determination of each and every member of our Team. We are all really proud of what we have achieved here this week. We said at the beginning of the season that our aim was to repeat the 2011 result at Le Mans and to win the FIA WEC Trophy for best Privateer. Well, we’ve bettered last year’s Le Mans result and are now in a good position in the lead of the FIA WEC Trophy, so after we finish celebrating this success, we’ll be re-focussing on the remaining races ahead and will be looking forward to the coming races with confidence and high energy.»
Media Inforamtiom: www.rebellion-racing.com