REBELLION Racing retains lead in the American Le Mans Series Championship.
The #12 REBELLION Racing Lola-Toyota, driven by Neel Jani and Nick Heidfeld, crossed the start-finish line to take second place in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The team is pleased with their podium finish which keeps them in the championship lead going into the third round of the American Le Mans Series.
The #12 REBELLION Racing car held on to first place until it came in for its one and only pit stop to change drivers and add fuel during the third safety car period on lap 33. The second placed #6 Muscle Milk, who had already changed drivers during the first safety car, followed suit and was able to leapfrog into first place.
The remainder of the grand prix ran green until the chequered flag. Nick Heidfeld, who drove a consistent and strong second half of the race, was cheated out of any real fight with the new race leaders due to heavy traffic.
The Swiss squad also collected first place in the Michelin Green X Challenge, a reward for the cleanest, fastest and most efficient LMP car on track.
REBELLION Racing returns to the ALMS in three weeks’ time for the American Le Mans Montery.
Neel Jani: "It was an interesting start. I was able to defend first place at the start which was important because from there I could create a gap. Everything was going to plan until the loads of yellow phases. The Muscle Milk made the decision to change their driver very early during the first yellow. Because there were so many yellow phases, their strategy turned out to be better than ours. But I guess that’s the experience they have in racing at Long Beach which we don’t. I think that’s what made the difference today. It certainly keeps the championship interesting and we will for sure be there to fight again in Laguna."
Nick Heidfeld: "We took second today which is good for the championship, but we are not completely satisfied. As Neel said, the Muscle Milk took a bit of a gamble on strategy which obviously paid off perfectly for them, because of all of the safety cars and pass arounds that kept them just behind Neel. From then their strategy was just to follow us because they were sure to have a shorter pit stop and be able to pass us. The car was a bit damaged which also didn’t help. We are looking forward to Laguna Seca now. I think our car should be better suited for that circuit. And we’re still ahead in the championship which is good. Congratulations to the Muscle Milk. We’re looking forward to fighting them again in a few weeks. "
Bart Hayden - REBELLION Racing Team manager : "After taking the pole position in qualifying, we were hoping to convert that into the race win. We lost out today because of a little bit of bad luck with the safety cars, but that is part of the scene here in the American races and next time maybe they will work in our favour. The whole team did a great job to put ourselves in a position to challenge for the victory, so that is encouraging. We’ll be back on a regular road course at Laguna (the next event) and we’ll be looking to take the win there."