Rebellion “couldn’t recognise” #1 car at Le Mans

Andre Lotterer says the Rebellion LMP1 team “couldn’t recognise” its #1 car during the Le Mans 24 Hours as he and his teammates faded from the fight for privateer honours.

Rebellion “couldn’t recognise” #1 car at Le Mans

Behind the dominant Toyotas, Rebellion was locked in battle with main privateer rival SMP in the battle to be ‘best of the rest’, but it was the #3 R-13 that led the charge as the #1 began to drop down the order in the early part of the race.

An off for Bruno Senna at the Esses, a puncture and a rear damper change proved costly, but three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer suggested the main reason for the car ending up three laps behind the third-placed SMP BR Engineering BR1 was a simple lack of speed.

“The main issue was there was zero speed in the car for the three of us,” Lotterer told Motorsport.com. “It was very difficult to drive, missing straightline speed too.

“That was the main difficult part, then we had the puncture at the beginning, a loose wheelnut, that set us back. But the toughest thing was the car was not very driveable.

“We just had to bring the car home from the beginning. We tried to change dampers at the rear to see, we couldn’t recognise the car anymore. The potential was not there.”

Rebellion mistakes cost likely podium - Berthon

The #3 Rebellion appeared to have gained the upper hand over the #11 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1 by the early hours of the morning, but the car’s advantage was undone by a three-minute penalty for failing to “reintroduce required tyres”.

Gustavo Menezes rejoined right behind the #11 car after serving the penalty.

“We had a three-minute penalty for, apparently, a sticker on the tyre. It’s like the tyre was not registered,” explained Berthon. “Then Gustavo was in a bad position.”

#3 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R-13: Gibson: Nathanael Berthon, Thomas Laurent, Gustavo Menezes

#3 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R-13: Gibson: Nathanael Berthon, Thomas Laurent, Gustavo Menezes

Photo by: JEP / LAT Images

The fight was finally decided in favour of the SMP car shared by Stoffel Vandoorne, Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin when Menezes spun the #3 Rebellion into the gravel at the Porsche Curves, causing braking problems when the car was retrieved.

This explained why the #3 had two lengthy stints in the garage in the closing hours and why it finally finished 15 laps down, and six behind the #1 Rebellion.

“We were almost a lap ahead, but then Gustavo was just behind the SMP,” continued Berthon. “We lost everything so he was a bit under pressure. He wanted to overtake the SMP as fast as possible and he spun. This caused a lot of problems.

“When I got back into the car there were a lot of stones in the braking system. I had no brakes no more, I nearly had a massive crash at the Esses. Then we lost a lot of time because we had to go twice to the garage for the brakes stuff.”

He concluded: “I think we had the pace, but sometimes you get unlucky. Too many mistakes as well. Everybody does mistakes, but we did too many, that cost us the podium sure.

“We were faster on race pace. They [SMP] just made no mistakes, they were very reliable. They did a very good race, they deserve it.”

SMP’s #11 car enjoyed a virtually incident-free run, with Vandoorne, Aleshin and Petrov suffering only one puncture on their way to third, six laps down on the Toyotas.

#11 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1: Mikhail Aleshin, Vitaly Petrov, Stoffel Vandoorne

#11 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1: Mikhail Aleshin, Vitaly Petrov, Stoffel Vandoorne

Photo by: JEP / LAT Images

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