Third Pole in a Row for Rebellion

by Alice Holloway
Rebellion Racing crew Bruno Senna, Norman Nato and Gustavo Menezes

Rebellion Racing has taken pole position ahead of the FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of COTA. It is the third time in a row the Swiss team will lead the pack away in the 2019/20 season.

Gustavo Menezes and Norman Nato took the #1 Rebellion to pole with an aggregated time of 1:47.530, 1.631 seconds up on the second placed #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing. It was surprising to see Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez claiming second ahead of the sister car as they have a more severe balance of performance penalty, slowing them down but nearly three seconds a lap. However, Brendon Hartley did lose his fastest lap time due to track limits violation, so this may explain the three tenth gap between the two cars.

Despite the strong performance in qualifying, the #7 trio are already writing off the race. They predict they will be fighting with the LMP2 cars throughout most of the event, as they were in practice yesterday.

A brief red flag had made Rebellion a little bit nervous as Nato had been out on what had looked like an extremely quick lap. The #33 High Class Racing came to a momentary stop at Turn 9, which had been localised yellows but evolved into a red flag. Just after the flag had changed, the LMP2 car managed to get moving again, making the use of the red flag a little obsolete.

Nato had a 1:48.087 on the board as a banker lap, but managed to improve by seven tenths to secure them pole position. Even if Nato had not have improved, Toyota did not do enough to challenge the Privateer car for pole position.

In a surprising turn, the #42 Cool Racing stole pole position in LMP2 from the two class favourites. The car hadn’t been showing many signs of being fast enough in the practice sessions, but Nicolas Lapierre and Antonin Borga found the pace to take the pole from home favourites United Autosports by a tenth of a second.

Despite Nyck de Vries setting the fastest lap of the LMP2 class, briefly getting between the two Toyotas after the first runs, the Racing Team Nederland car will start second from the back of the class grid. The #36 Signatech Alpine of Thomas Laurent, Andre Negrao and Pierre Ragues rounded off the top three.

Aston Martin Racing on track at 6 Hours of COTA, 2020 WEC
Credit: FIA World Endurance Championship

GTE Pro championship leaders Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen claimed pole position in class competitively, holding onto the position throughout the session. Sorensen led the charge setting a 2:00.742, but the only driver to go faster than that time was his team mate Thiim. The 2:00.725 set by the Danish driver brought their average down to 2.00.733, two tenths of a second clear of their closest rivals.

It hadn’t looked good for the #92 Porsche GT Team after the first runs, with Michael Christensen only able to put the car fifth on the grid with his 2:01.106. However, a blistering lap from Kevin Estre jumped them up to P2, narrowly beating the second Aston Martin Racing car of Alex Lynn and Maxime Martin.

The #91 Porsche led the two AF Corse cars over the line, with the entire top six covered by just over four tenths of a second. The Corvette Racing, however, had a difficult time, not only starting at the back of the GTE Pro field but will be mixed in with the Am cars as their lap average was 2.5 second off the pace of the pole-sitting Dane Train.

It was a tight battle for pole in GTE Am, but the #56 Team Project 1 claimed the front spot of the class grid. They were ahead of the #98 Aston Martin by 0.046 seconds at the chequered flag. Both cars will start ahead of the Corvette Racing Pro entry in today’s grid, with the favourite for pole #77 Dempsey Proton Racing rounding up the top three in class.

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