REBELLION Racing come away from the 1000 km of Hungary with mixed feelings.
Both Lola-Rebellions set the pace for the LMP1 category during the weekend, but in a race that saw an unusually high rate of attrition in the top prototype category the overall podium for the race was filled by cars from the LMP2 class. Second in the LMP1 class for the #12 REBELLION Racing Lola was a small reward for the team, but the #13 car had to retire with a transmission breakage.
Both of the REBELLION Racing Lolas were very fast during the free practice sessions, with the quickest two times during the third (night) session. In Qualifying, the REBELLIONs #13 and #12 were the fastest LMP1 cars in the field, in front of the Peugeot 908 HDI from Oreca, the Signature Lola-Aston Martin and the Beechdean-Mansell Zytek.
At the start of the race, Andrea Belicchi in car #13 overtook the pole sitting LMP2 car of Strakka Racing to take the lead into the first corner, Neel Jani in the #12 Lola-Rebellion was third, sandwiching the Oreca Peugeot 908 HDI. In the early stages of the race Andrea Belicchi was so fast and precise in the traffic that the Oreca-Peugeot was never in a position to try to overtake him. Neel Jani kept closely in touch with the two leaders ensuring that the gap was minimal as the first round of pit stops approached.
Just before the one hour mark, the #13 Lola-Rebellion pitted for its first stop and Jean-Christophe Boullion jumped into the cockpit of the Lola coupe for a scheduled double stint. The Oreca-Peugeot 908 HDI was able to stay out a little longer, thanks to low consumption of its diesel engine and thus took the lead of the race.
After the first round of pit stops were completed, the #13 car found itself right on the tail of the Oreca-Peugeot, but minor collisions with traffic hampered the chase and led to a slow puncture in a front tyre that forced the #13 car to come back to the pit for an unscheduled stop. As a precaution, the team elected to thoroughly check the car for any other damage and during the pit stop Andrea Belicchi jumped back into the car. Part way through his stint and going into turn one, the rear end of the car locked up and left Andrea stranded on the run-off asphalt on the side of the track. After several tries and advice via the radio from his Race Engineer, Andrea was not able to obtain any drive through the transmission and the team had no other choice than to retire the car.
The race of the sister #12 car was close to be ended earlier in the race. Just after having completed its first pit stop, a hose in the car's cooling system split and the sudden leak of coolant went onto the left rear tyre in the braking zone for turn 10, forcing Nico Prost into a spun. Fortunately, Nico was able to stop the car without touching the tyre wall and he managed to bring the car back to the pits for repair. After 24 minutes in the garage, Nico was sent back out on track where from 32nd overall, Nicolas Prost and Neel Jani recovered to 8th overall and second in the LMP1 category.
The 1000 km of Hungaroring saw a lot of misfortunes for all the other LMP1 teams and for the first time in Le Mans Series history, three LMP2 cars claimed positions on the overall podium.
REBELLION Racing is now focused on the Le Mans Series Finale from 10 to 12 September, the 1000 km of Silverstone, were both of the team's Lola-Rebellions still have the possibility of claiming the championship title.
Bart Hayden, REBELLION Racing Team Manager: " On paper, second in class looks like a good result, but with the pace that we had in the cars this weekend, we're far from satisfied. We had both cars on top of the time sheets in Free Practice 3. We qualified our cars ahead of all the other LMP1s here, including the diesel powered Oreca-Peugeot. We had a dream-like first hour of the race with our cars leading the way, but in the end we only collected a class result. I'm happy for Nico and Neel that they have scored good points and that we now have both cars in strong positions in the championship, but we're disappointed not to get both cars home and, with the pace we have shown we should have had them on the overall race podium too. There will be twice the number of LMP1 cars at the final Le Mans Series race at Silverstone, so it will be tough, but we should have confidence in the pace of our cars and our determination will be strong for the best possible results. "