Sebring 12 Hours
12 HOURS OF SEBRING : A SOLID START TO THE SEASON
The REBELLION Racing Lola-Toyota, car #12, driven by Neel Jani, Nicolas Prost and Jeroen Bleekemolen took the checkered flag in seventh place as a rookie at Florida’s famous Sebring raceway.
The team is satisfied with the final result, especially competing against strong opposition including the factory Peugeots and Audis and very experienced ALMS regulars such as Highcroft Racing and Dyson Racing.
REBELLION Racing wanted the opening round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup to be a strong test for both the car and the new Toyota engine. After nearly 26 hours of running during the week, the new RV8KLM Toyota engine showed perfect reliability. Starting from 8th place on the grid, the #12 Lola-Toyota did not suffer any technical problems during the whole race. Some bad luck with the safety cars and some minor collisions with traffic that necessitated unscheduled stops for repairs caused the #12 car to lose some ground with the leading cars.
The technical problem free race at Sebring is in some ways a reward for all the work accomplished during he winter and having been on the road now for ten days in a row since the Le Mans Series test days in France last week-end, REBELLION Racing is starting the season on solid ground.
Jeroen Bleekemolen : « I am happy with the result, even if we think we could have been placed higher. My pace was good and I felt confident with the Lola-Toyota. For me, being a part of this programme with Rebellion and Toyota is important because since I drove (and won) with the Porsche RS Spyder I have always wanted to be back in a prototype car. I had some difficult times during the race with a very dirty windscreen, I sometimes felt that I had two wheels on the grass ! We have accomplished a lot of work since last week in France and I feel great in the team, I really enjoy to share the drive with Neel and Nico. I can’t wait to be at Le Mans for the test day in April ! »
Nicolas Prost : « The Toyota engine is really great. It’s already a very good engine in terms of performance, and we have proved good reliability. For a first time here, I think that we have done a good job and the data and experience we get here will be useful for the next races in Europe.
I have been captivated by the racing here, there is a very good atmosphere, the fans can get closer to the cars than in Europe and for us we can also feel a big difference, you can meet more easily the other drivers and team members, many teams are sharing the same hospitality services, in the open pits you can talk with the other guys. I would really want to comeback racing in the US.»
Neel Jani : « It is always good to start a season with a car that showed good pace and reliability. We had a tough race with the heat and the heavy traffic but at the end we are happy with our result. We have no trophy to bring back with us, but have scored important points for the ILMC Team Championship.
This race helped us to better understand the car, but now we need to improve our performance for Le Mans. Some upgrades are scheduled for Le Mans test day, that is a good thing for the future. »
Bart Hayden, REBELLION Racing Team Manager : « Our main goal was to have the car crossing the finish line with an acceptable classification. One this point we have reached the target. The new Toyota engine has proved its reliability over more than 24 hours of running during the week, that’s a good achievement for the forthcoming season and the Le Mans 24 Hours ‘rendez-vous’.
I would like to thank our partners at TMG for their great work and determination. As a team we have grown stronger through the past week.
The drivers drove well, I am pleased with their attitude and with their contribution to the team. Nevertheless, as a team, we could have perhaps been more agressive during the race and have reached the top 5, that was achievable. But it is always easy to say that after the event!
We are now focused on our European programme with the opening round of the Le Mans Series with the 6 Hours of Le Castellet in France with our two Lola-Toyota LMP1 cars. We will not target less than the win there !
-source: rebellion racing