Former FIA World Endurance champion Neel Jani says Rebellion Racing will treat this year’s Spa season opener as a “learning” race despite a “great” Prologue test.
All six of Rebellion’s LMP1 drivers shared a single car in last week’s Paul Ricard running, as the Anglo-Swiss team only had one of its Oreca-built, Gibson-powered R-13s ready in time for the Prologue.
Andre Lotterer set the #1 car’s quickest time, which was a hundredth of a second slower than the benchmark non-privateer SMP Racing BR1-AER but 4.382s behind the best of the Toyotas, which ran outside WEC’s Equivalence of Technology rules to set its best times.
Despite an encouraging first showing for a car that had only completed a small handful of laps prior to the Prologue, Jani believes Rebellion cannot set high expectations for next month’s Spa race.
"This first test was absolutely great for us,” Jani told Motorsport.com. “You have to remember that the new car barely did any running before the Prologue.
“So it was nice to see that we were there immediately and that the car held up well. If you compare our performance with SMP, for example, who have already had a lot of tests, you can only see it positively.
"We have the next test at the end of April [at Magny-Cours], there we’ll have two cars, so it will be a matter of implementing the findings of the Prologue and 'personalising' the cars.
“In Paul Ricard we shared a car with six drivers, so you can't work out a one-way set-up, you have to make it acceptable for everyone.
"Spa will be a kind of practice and learning race for us. We want to be ready for Le Mans – speed alone won't endanger Toyota, we can only seek success through maximum reliability."
As well as this month’s two-day Magny Cours test, Rebellion will have one further private test at Monza in May ahead of the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Team manager Bart Hayden described the team’s Prologue speed “as okay” but was pleased with his outfit’s performance given how new the R-13 is.
"Considering that our new R-13 was only finished on Monday evening and we only had five laps of shakedown and two laps of filming, this first test was very positive for us,” Hayden told Motorsport.com.
"The performance was okay off the bat, although there is still some work to be done. The stability was good as well, but will that be enough to endanger Toyota at Le Mans? I have my doubts."