Privateer LMP1s “cannot dream” of racing Toyota

Drivers from leading privateer LMP1 teams have ruled out taking the fight to Toyota in Saturday’s FIA World Endurance Championship opener at Spa.

Privateer LMP1s “cannot dream” of racing Toyota
#1 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R-13: Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani, Bruno Senna
Pole sitters #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Fernando Alonso
#17 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1: Stéphane Sarrazin
#1 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R-13: Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani, Bruno Senna
#4 ByKolles Racing Team Enso CLM P1/01: Oliver Webb, Dominik Kraihamer, Tom Dillmann
#17 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1: Stéphane Sarrazin, Egor Orudzhev, Matevos Isaakyan
#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi
#17 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1: Stéphane Sarrazin, Egor Orudzhev, Matevos Isaakyan
#10 Dragonspeed BR Engineering BR1: Henrik Hedman, Ben Hanley, Pietro Fittipaldi

Toyota locked out the front row with its pair of TS050 Hybrids, the quickest of which was 1.842s up on the best non-hybrid car, the #1 Rebellion R-13.

Stephane Sarrazin, whose #17 SMP Racing entry failed to set a time after stopping on circuit with an engine systems issue, said fighting the Toyotas would be impossible.

We are in another world,” said Sarrazin. “We are a private team so we fight with [the other] private cars. We cannot dream. The target is to be same level as Rebellion.”

Sarrazin confirmed SMP’s two AER-powered BR Engineering BR1s are running in low downforce trim, with the primary goal of preparing for next month’s Le Mans 24 Hours.

“We have good balance but sliding a bit too much, understeer,” he said. “You hope for a result, but we know there’s not enough grip.”

Rebellion driver Neel Jani said that while the qualifying gap to Toyota was not accurate due to the session being disrupted by two red flags, the race pace difference remains substantial.

He estimated that the deficit between Rebellion and the Toyotas would be more than a second per lap.

“We haven’t brought everything together what we need,” Jani said. “Our gap is for sure bigger than a second on an average lap, which makes it difficult.

“Qualifying was not representative for anyone. Toyota could have gone quicker without the red flags, and we could have gone a little bit quicker. It was not clean for anyone.

“But the formation is correct – Toyota, us and the rest, that is clear. Third is the new first!”

ByKolles qualified sixth with its ENSO CLM P1/01-Nissan, behind the best of the SMP Racing cars, and Oliver Webb said the goal would be to challenge Rebellion rather than Toyota.

“We’re off the Rebellions, but the SMP we were only one tenth off them [in terms of best laptimes],” said Webb. “We’ve got a second to the Rebellion cars.

“I’d like to think we can challenge Rebellion on old tyres rather than new ones, but I still think they have a bit of an edge out of all the privateers.”

Webb added the privateers are capped at 17-lap stints during Saturday’s race, while the Toyotas are expected to run 19 laps between pitstops.

“That is the rule,” he said. “We [all the privateers] will be very obviously pitting [together] and that will make it really exciting in the pitlane!”

The Spa race is likely to feature just seven LMP1 cars, following the withdrawal of both Manor-run Ginettas due to financial issues and DragonSpeed driver Pietro Fittipaldi’s high-speed crash in qualifying.

Fittipaldi sustained suspected fractures in both legs and the DragonSpeed BR1 chassis is believed to be too damaged to race, with no spare tub available.

shares
comments
Fittipaldi suffers suspected leg fractures in Spa WEC crash
Previous article

Fittipaldi suffers suspected leg fractures in Spa WEC crash

Next article

Fittipaldi undergoes surgery after Spa WEC crash

Fittipaldi undergoes surgery after Spa WEC crash
Load comments
Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021 Prime

Why Le Mans didn't decide Toyota's WEC title outcome in 2021

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez scored a second successive FIA World Endurance Championship title in the #7 Toyota, as its new Le Mans Hypercar went unbeaten. Motorsport.com recaps how each of the four classes in the 2021 season were won and picks out the best LMH and GTE drivers

WEC
15 h
The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending Prime

The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending

OPINION: The deeply unsatisfying ending to a brilliant World Endurance Championship GTE Pro battle in Bahrain had Ferrari provisionally heading back from the desert as the victor. But Porsche plans to appeal the outcome, which rests on a number of confusing elements that have yet to be satisfactorily explained.

WEC
Nov 9, 2021
How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint Prime

How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint

The Ferrari versus Porsche fight for the FIA World Endurance Championship's GTE Pro title had been a finely-poised affair, right up until Alessandro Pier Guidi's punt on Michael Christensen in the closing stages of the Bahrain 8 Hours handed Ferrari a provisional title, pending Porsche's appeal. Here's how the controversy played out.

WEC
Nov 8, 2021
The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster Prime

The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster

The 1-2 finish achieved by Toyota at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours was a result that will have surprised few, given its status as pre-event favourite. But the result was anything but straightforward, as worsening fuel pressure concerns required the team's drivers and engineers to pursue "creative fixes" on the fly. Here is the full story of how it reached the end without a lengthy pit visit

Le Mans
Nov 3, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Prime

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment.

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood Prime

Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood

Team WRT has been at the forefront of GT racing for years and made a successful move to prototypes for 2021, capped by an LMP2 win on its Le Mans debut. It could've been even better had the race been one lap shorter, when its cars ran 1-2, but the stranger-than-fiction reality has spurred the team to reach greater heights.

Le Mans
Oct 16, 2021
Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked Prime

Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked

Toyota scored its fourth Le Mans 24 Hours victory and a 1-2, with the #7 car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez beating the #8. But although it looked straightforward from the outside, Toyota faced serious problem that had to be solved with some quick-thinking and ingenuity.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far Prime

What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far

The new dawn for the FIA World Endurance Championship has arrived at Le Mans, as Hypercars prepare to duel for victory in the world's oldest endurance race. Motorsport.com picks out the 10 things we have learned in the build up to the race.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021