Rebellion Racing enjoyed a “faultless” debut weekend according to driver Jean Christophe Boullion as he, along with Guy Smith and Andrea Belicchi took third place in LMP1, and overall, at the 8 Hours of Le Castellet at Paul Ricard.
The result was a well-deserved reward for the team, who had chosen to replace the engine in the car on Friday night.
Boullion started the no.13 car from fifth but was among those shuffled back in the first handful of corners, though thanks to the lack of wall at the track he was able to rejoin and keep pace with the leading cars. From a base inside the top ten he took advantage of problems for first the ORECA 01 which had a puncture, then the ORECA entered Peugeot 908 to reach third place
It was a place the team would only lose momentarily, due to pitstop cycles during the remainder of the race Guy Smith holding off the recovering Peugeot.
“The team was really perfect both during the pit stops and during the race,” said Belicchi. “The car is much more consistent than the one we had last year. We have also gained speed. I would like to thank the mechanics who worked late into the night from Friday to Saturday to allow us to finish the weekend on the podium.”
“This weekend is very satisfying for me. It is a faultless race week-end that ends on a good note with a place on the podium,” added Boullion. “Starting a new adventure after a relationship of 9 years in a team is not easy. Weekends like this will accelerate the integration and help the understanding with the team.”
The sister no.12 car fared less well, early contact with a GT car breaking the rear suspension. Swiss driver Neel Jani limping the car round the 5.8km circuit back to the pits for repairs, only to be sent out with the problem still extant and have to crawl round for another lap. Jani would ultimately lose 18 minutes in the pits before being given a 3 minute stop-and-go penalty for allegedly spinning his tyres leaving his pit stall.
It was a penalty the team appealed against, pointing out in vain that the rubber marks didn't match the tyres on the Lola coupe.
“We can not be satisfied with the classification we had today in the #12 car.” Jani said. “We did a good race including some very quick laps. I do not understand the decision on our penalty. Luckily we were not, then fighting for a podium. Too bad we could not do better because two Lola-Rebellion on the podium would have been even better!”
Photo Credit: Rebellion Racing