Rebellion's Menezes "really surprised" to split Toyotas

Rebellion Racing's Gustavo Menezes says he was "really surprised" to split the Toyotas in qualifying for the Le Mans 24 Hours with what he described as "pretty damn close to a perfect lap".

The American driver posted a lap of 3m15.822s in Friday morning's 'Hyperpole' session to get within 0.555s of the pole time established by Toyota driver Kamui Kobayashi, also marking the fastest-ever time of the Circuit de la Sarthe for a non-hybrid car.

It came after the #1 Rebellion R-13 shared by Menezes, Bruno Senna and Norman Nato suffered a problem with its Gibson engine that forced the trio to sit out the second practice session on Thursday ahead of first qualifying.

Read Also:

Having had limited running going into Hyperpole, Menezes admitted that he was surprised to post such a quick laptime, one that puts Rebellion ahead of the second Toyota on the grid.

"It was a dramatic start for us with the blown engine in FP2," Menezes told Motorsport.com. "I went into this morning feeling fairly ok, but not extremely in the rhythm to put together a lap.

"I did FP4, I did two timed laps, and I hadn’t driven new tyres, so I wasn’t 100 percent sure of what kind of pace gain we would have. But coming around Turn 1 and 2, my eyes opened. I thought, ‘oh my gosh, the car is incredible, it’s time to push a little bit’.

"Every time I came around a turn, the delta got faster. We got one perfectly clear lap and when I came out of the Ford chicane, I saw on the dash ‘3m15s’ and I thought, ‘oh my gosh, that must be one of the three or four fastest times around Le Mans'.

"It was an extremely clean lap and I don’t know how much I had left. It was pretty damn close to a perfect lap. The balance of the car was there today.

"We went into qualifying thinking a top four would be good, and we got on the front row. It really surprised everyone, including myself, so really happy with it."

#1 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R-13: Bruno Senna, Gustavo Menezes, Norman Nato

#1 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R-13: Bruno Senna, Gustavo Menezes, Norman Nato

Photo by: Rainier Ehrhardt

Rebellion heads into Le Mans off the back of a disappointing showing in the previous FIA World Endurance Championship race at Spa in mixed conditions, with the Swiss team's CEO Calim Bouhadra admitting that a wet race at La Sarthe would be a "nightmare".

Menezes said he was optimistic that rain may not play too big a role in the race.

"The forecast has changed every day, but it seems to have got better," he said. "Before it was saying rain all night, now it’s looking like a little bit of rain in the afternoon and then clear for the rest of the race. We’ll have to see, but hopefully we can have a dry track and push. 

"I think it will be hard, we can’t be too confident, but I can tell you that even if we don’t have what it takes, we’ll be giving it everything to take home a win."

shares
comments
Peugeot chooses Hypercar for 2022 Le Mans return
Previous article

Peugeot chooses Hypercar for 2022 Le Mans return

Next article

Livestream: Le Mans Esports Super Final – for 2010s cars

Livestream: Le Mans Esports Super Final – for 2010s cars
Load comments
The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster Prime

The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster

The 1-2 finish achieved by Toyota at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours was a result that will have surprised few, given its status as pre-event favourite. But the result was anything but straightforward, as worsening fuel pressure concerns required the team's drivers and engineers to pursue "creative fixes" on the fly. Here is the full story of how it reached the end without a lengthy pit visit

Le Mans
Nov 3, 2021
Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood Prime

Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood

Team WRT has been at the forefront of GT racing for years and made a successful move to prototypes for 2021, capped by an LMP2 win on its Le Mans debut. It could've been even better had the race been one lap shorter, when its cars ran 1-2, but the stranger-than-fiction reality has spurred the team to reach greater heights.

Le Mans
Oct 16, 2021
Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked Prime

Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked

Toyota scored its fourth Le Mans 24 Hours victory and a 1-2, with the #7 car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez beating the #8. But although it looked straightforward from the outside, Toyota faced serious problem that had to be solved with some quick-thinking and ingenuity.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far Prime

What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far

The new dawn for the FIA World Endurance Championship has arrived at Le Mans, as Hypercars prepare to duel for victory in the world's oldest endurance race. Motorsport.com picks out the 10 things we have learned in the build up to the race.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021
Le Mans 2021: The team-by-team guide Prime

Le Mans 2021: The team-by-team guide

After a two-month delay due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours is set to get underway with the start of the Hypercar era at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021
The ex-F1 drivers making a name for themselves in LMP2 at Le Mans Prime

The ex-F1 drivers making a name for themselves in LMP2 at Le Mans

Kevin Magnussen will make his Le Mans 24 Hours debut this weekend alongside father Jan in LMP2. But the Danes won't be the only ex-F1 drivers to appear in the hotly contested category this year.

Le Mans
Aug 20, 2021
Can Toyota's #7 crew break its Le Mans curse? Prime

Can Toyota's #7 crew break its Le Mans curse?

One Toyota, normally with the number 7 on the side, always seems to attract the bad luck in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez are hoping for a change in fortune this time around, but face significantly more unknowns than in recent years

Le Mans
Aug 19, 2021
How to prepare an amateur for Le Mans sensory overload Prime

How to prepare an amateur for Le Mans sensory overload

The 23-car GTE Am field promises to be one of the most open in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, with the added jeopardy of managing the enthusiasm of amateur drivers to boot, as Absolute Racing Porsche driver Marco Seefried explains

Le Mans
Aug 19, 2021