REBELLION Racing secured first and third place amongst the FIA WEC LMP1 Privateer field at the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo with the B12/60 Lola-Toyota cars #12 and #13 in 4th and 6th places overall.
The two Lola-Toyotas took the lead of the LMP1 privateer field from the first corner of the race. Neel Jani in the #12 keeping his 4th place starting position and Andrea Belicchi at the wheel of the #13 overtaking the HPD #21 driven by Danny Watts to take 5th position.
After one stint, Andrea Belicchi handed the wheel to Harold Primat while Neel Jani with the #12 ran for a trouble-free double stint. At the beginning of the third hour of race, the #12 relinquished the lead of the LMP1 Privateers to the #21 car after a pit-stop and driver change. Nicolas Prost with the #12 and Harold Primat with #13 were respectively 5th and 6th pushing to recover the thirty seven seconds gap to the HPD car.
Twenty five minutes before the mid-race, the only safety car of the day was deployed. After the restart, the two Lola-Toyotas were in P4 and P6.
At this time, a wheel-to-wheel battle between Andrea Belicchi and Danny Watts took place for more than ten laps. Andrea resisted Danny’s attentions in an epic manner until he had to pit for fuel and tyres. Pitting very shortly afterwards for fuel only, the HPD #21 then came out in 5th position.
A few minutes later, the sister car, Lola-Toyota #12 did a full service pit stop, Neel Jani taking the wheel after Nicolas Prost. The Swiss driver then pushed hard to put a maximum of time between him and the other privateer competitors. Nicolas Prost drove the last stint and took the chequered flag in first position of the LMP1 Privateers and 4th overall.
The battle for 5th position wasn’t over yet though. After the tussle between Andrea Belicchi and Danny Watts earlier in the race, a second battle took place between Harold Primat and Nick Leventis. After closing the gap, Harold attacked several times to pass the HPD, but the two cars touched at Turn 4, spinning them both off the track.
Fortunately, both cars were able to continue and recovering to the track first, Harrold Primat and the Lola-Car #13 decided to make a pit stop to check the car, it was found only to have superficial damage. The #21 car had a full service pit stop forty five minutes before the end of the race while Harold only did a splash and dash to save time. Jonny Kane taking over behind the wheel on fresh tyres in the #21 car. During the last thirty minutes, the HPD overhauled the 30 seconds gap to the #13 car. Two laps before the end of the race, Jonny Kane overtook the Lola-Toyota #13, leaving it in 6th position overall.
Once again, Rebellion Racing finished the race as the first non-factory team, a fine result on their first foray to the demanding Interlagos track. The cars had good pace and reliability and used those assets to deliver a great result.
Neel Jani – Lola-Toyota #12 : "We are very happy. P4 overall is the best result we could have achieved. Of course, any kind of problem for the factory cars and we would expect to be on the podium, but it wasn't to be this time. I had a good start and that allowed me to create a gap to the other Privateer LMP1 cars. That was a key point for the race; we finished with two laps in hand over the second Privateer LMP1. So it's a perfect race for us !"
Nicolas Prost – Lola-Toyota #12 : "After a complicated race at Silverstone, we put some pressure on ourselves to achieve a good trouble-free result here in Sao Paulo. We had a great qualification session and during the race, Neel and I made no mistakes. That's the third time we finished fourth this year, it's time for us now to be on the podium! Anyway, up until now, we’ve taken the maximum from each race, except Sebring which was not a successful event for the team, but it would be difficult to achieve a better result than we have so far."
Andrea Belicchi – Lola-Toyota #13 : "The night before the race, I felt sick because of a bacteria or something. So we changed our strategy. I started the race but gave the wheel to Harold after a single stint. After Harold’s double stint, it was agreed that I would drive for one stint to see how I felt and if I felt good, I would continue for a second stint. As I felt okay, I did the double stint. The race was really close with the Strakka car. We lost the 5th position two laps before the end of the race. It's a pity, but it's racing. I want to thank my teammate Harold who has been fast and drove two fantastic double stints. He has been great this weekend! "
Harold Primat – Lola-Toyota # 13 : "As we were expecting, it was a very physical race. Andrea did a good job driving that gave us thirty six seconds in front of the Strakka car early on. I then drove two and a half stints during which a lot of things happened ! We had a wheel-to-wheel battle with Nick Leventis but unfortunately we touched and both went out briefly. I preferred to pit to check the car and refuel and I guess that cost us precious time. When Jonny Kane took the wheel of the HPD with fresh tyres at the end, it was really hard to keep him back! It was a very open race, all the LMP1 privateers were very close. We did our maximum, but it was not quite enough today."
Bart Hayden REBELLION Racing Team manager : "A fantastic achievement by the drivers and crew on car #12, so very nearly followed up by the #13 car. The crew on #13 feel a bit disappointed at losing 5th place in the closing laps, but when they think back a couple of weeks to when we managed to hold off the advances of the Strakka car at Silverstone, they perhaps will not feel so bad. And in any case, they should be proud because it was a mighty race and they did a great job to prepare the car so that it was there fighting at the flag.
For the first of the “fly-away” races in this part of the season, I’m really pleased that we won and that the cars reached the end in pretty good condition. We don’t get long to turn them around before the next race, so that is important.
We worked well with Michelin to get the best from the tyres and with the hard work of the team looking to optimise what we have, that’s what helped us to win the Privateers race in Sao Paulo.
In just over a week, we’ll be in Bahrain and we’ll be carrying this momentum with us and looking forward to another great race. "
Source: REBELLION Racing