After topping the times in final practice Rebellion Racing start the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship from fourth and sixth in class, splitting the works Audis.
Nick Heidfeld led the Rebellion charge as he recorded the second best laptime of the whole field – an impressive feat from the privateer team. With qualifying decided on an average time of two laps from two drivers in each car Heidfeld and team-mate Neel Jani finished the session in fourth place with a time of 1:52.124.
The #13 Rebellion of Andrea Belicchi and Mathias Beche put in an average time of 1:53.835, finishing in sixth place ahead of the local Strakka Racing team.
“We did a non-profitable bet by starting with slick tyres because immediately after the start of the session heavy rain fell” explained Jani. “The track was too wet for this kind of tyre and I had to come back to the pit after my first lap to put on intermediate tyres. Once I had the right tyres for heavy rain conditions, the rain suddenly stopped and the track started to dry out very quickly.”
Nick Heidfeld was happy with his days’ work despite it being a challenge. “It was the first time we had to drive with two drivers in a qualifying session. The changing weather had shaken our plan.
“I did three good laptimes but I was blocked at the end of my last lap by a Toyota and an Audi that were fighting together. Lots of things that we couldn’t forecast… Nevertheless, we put a factory car behind us on the grid.
With Heidfeld topping the timesheets in the morning he was pleased to have confirmed his outright pace. “It’s nice to see that I have secured the second quickest time of the session. Our main competitors are behind us so we are in a very good position for tomorrow.”
“We are in a good position on the grid and the car is fast enough to give us some hopes for tomorrow’s race” added Belicchi.
Team Manager Bart Hayden was happy with the performance of his team. “I am very pleased to have secured the best privateer spot on the grid. I would like to thank the team for their hard work in preparing the cars for this race.
“Since our return from Sebring we went to Paul Ricard for the FIA WEC Test introducing the new aero kit and then rebuilt both cars in time for this week-end. I am proud of their efforts, which helped us to get the most out of the qualifying session today.”