Rebellion Racing team manager Bart Hayden has said that he is confident of advances at Le Mans during race week. The team took two of their brand new Rebellion R-One LMP1-L race cars to the Circuit de La Sarthe for the Le Mans Test Day on Sunday and were making improvements until a late accident damaged the #12.
The team termed the official pre-24 test a ‘productive’ day, as the outfit worked with their two chassis to develop an understanding of how the new car would work in Le Mans trim. Working on setup and fuel efficiency between the #12 and #13, the team were not going for all out pace but were pleased to note that they were only 7km/h slower than the fastest of the factory LMP1 machines in a straight line. The #13 R-One turned in a top speed of 331.8 kilometers per hour down the Mulsanne straight compared to the #20 Porsche 919 Hybrid’s best of 339.1 at the hands of Mark Webber.
In terms of lap time the R-One was only three seconds adrift of the fastest time set in qualifying for the 2013 24 Heures du Mans by the #12 Rebellion Lola-Toyota.
As the day began to draw to a close the positive mood in the team was dampened when Nick Heidfeld lost control of the #12 R-One in the Porsche Curves section of the Le Mans track. The car struck be wall, where tech-pro barriers have been placed following a number of significant accidents in recent years, and suffered bodywork damage. The chassis was unaffected by the accident and the team have sufficient spares to prepare the car for race week.
“The official Test day was a generally positive one,” said Hayden, “but it’s a shame we had the crash in the final minutes of the afternoon. Fortunately Nick is okay, and the damage to the car is repairable, so it shouldn’t impact us too badly for the race. We turned a good number of laps and improvements in the cars’ performance and systems kept coming, which is nice to see. We’ve got more data now to help us prepare for the race and I’m confident that we will be further forward come race week.”
Heidfeld added, “As we still have a new car, we still don’t really know it very well. The balance for me was not what I would really like. We clearly improved it during the weekend, but the car is still very new. We are learning things all the time in terms of fuel saving, setup or electronic systems. We are still moving forward and have some margin to the limit. In the Indianapolis curve, I lost the rear of the car going to the “S” Porsche. I’m happy that they changed the barrier there to new tech-pro type because the damage could have been far worse.”
Andrea Belicchi in the #13 R-One was pleased that the team had now solved the electrical gremlins that beset the car during its debut at the 6 Hours of Spa last month. He said, “We finally found the nature of the electrical problems we had on the #13 car from Spa to Le Mans. We really hope that this issue is now behind us. Then, we started to work a little bit on the set up of the car late in the afternoon. It seems that we need a little tweak in the regulations because we need more performance when we are in fuel saving mode. And the gap of acceleration still remains between the factory cars and us as their hybrid systems have more power than our regular engine.”
Mathias Beche, Nicolas Prost and Dominik Kraihamer all noted that the car was not on terms with the factory cars when in fuel saving mode. “When we are in “fuel saving mode”, we clearly lose big performance, we need to be closer to the factory cars,” commented Beche. Fabio Leimer will also race with the team in the #13 during the 24 hours and completed his ten mandatory laps.
Both cars will now be prepared for the start of the race week festivities when scrutineering gets underway in the town of Le Mans on Monday 9th June.