Harold Primat, Andrea Belicchi and Cong Fu Cheng made sure that LMP1 teams’ champions Rebellion Racing ended the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with a six win of the year.
The trio – regulars Primat and Belicchi joined by Cheng for his home race at the Six Hours of Shanghai – inherited the lead after the late retirement of Nicolas Prost, given the final stint in the team’s other Lola-Toyota.
Prost and Neel Jani had dominated the LMP1 privateers class all race, and looked destined to collect another win, and with it third place in the drivers championship behind the fleet of Audi drivers. However, a transmission failure just minutes from the end of the race rendered Prost a spectator and opened the door for Primat and Belicchi to collect their second win of the year, their previous win coming at Silverstone in late August.
“It was like another perfect race for us until 8 minutes before the end,” said Prost. “We made the gap during the race and won the duel against the JRM #22 car. But the gearbox broke just a few laps before the end of the race, preventing the car from being able to move and forcing us to retire. As a consequence, we lost third place in the WEC driver classification. We had bad luck in beginning of the season and we are finishing with bad luck. It’s a bit sad to finish on this note, but we can be very proud of our results this season.”
The winning team had to fight from a seventh at the start, past both JRM and Strakka Racing teams. Belicchi had to find a way around JRM’s David Brabham in the final hour, momentarily giving Rebellion a 1-2 before Prost’s late problem left the win to their teammates, Belicchi crossing the line just eight seconds ahead of Brabham’s JRM HPD.
“I feel mixed emotions,” admitted Belicchi. “I’m happy for me, for my teammates Harold and Cong Fu and for all the team who have done a great job through the whole season. I’m sad too for the team of the #12 Lola-Toyota and for my friends Neel and Nico. Harold, Cong Fu and I had a very strong race. I won my duel with David Brabham. I had a risky decision to take because there were not a lot of places that I could overtake, but it worked.”
“I would especially like to thank and congratulate Cong Fu. He has been really great during the week-end. He has quickly become part of the team and adapted very well to the car. He drove really strong stints during the race.”
“The challenge of driving the car was not so easy,” added the Chinese driver. “I hadn’t driven much before the race and I had not a lot of time to learn and understand the car, but we did it! I’m sorry for Neel and Nico, but happy to have contributed to the success of the team. I really appreciate being able to come and race at Rebellion Racing, there is a great spirit in this team.”