Swiss based LMP1 team Rebellion Racing have confirmed they will use Toyota engines in their 2011 campaigns after agreeing a deal to be the exclusive partner of the Japanese marque in the premier category of endurance racing.
“This agreement is the cornerstone of Rebellion’s challenge for the forthcoming season,” said team principal Alexandre Pesci. “Toyota is an impressive and remarkable industrial giant, we are proud to have been selected by Toyota Motorsport as their partner in this project. It means a lot for our team to have secured their support in our efforts to target the victory.”
“We are delighted to become a partner of Toyota Motorsport and are excited about working alongside a company with a Formula One background and a rich history at Le Mans,” adds Bart Hayden, team manager. “We look forward to establishing a strong and long term relationship with them.”
An interim Lola-Toyota has already undergone a shakedown run at Snetterton in early October, before both team and engine supplier completed evaluation runs at Portimao and the Spanish Monteblanco circuit.
The link-up means the first Toyota involvement in the Le Mans 24 Hours since the final year of the GT-One program in 1999.
“Toyota Motorsport has recent experience of engine supply partnerships from our Formula One days so we are drawing on that to deliver a reliable and competitive engine,” said Yoshiaki Kinoshita, President of Toyota Motorsport – the LMP1 engine project will be run from the same Cologne base that was home to Toyota's Grand Prix team. “We are looking forward to working with Rebellion Racing on this exciting project and it was very pleasing to see this engine running in a car for the first time, particularly because the performance, as well as the reliability, was very encouraging.”
Also confirmed today was the team's retention of their four main drivers. Neel Jani should drive alongside Nicolas Prost again, with Andrea Belicchi and Jean-Christophe Boullion in the other car. Third drivers for Le Mans will be announced at a later date.