Toyota: Rebellion has pace to win at Silverstone

Rebellion Racing has already shown race-winning pace at Silverstone ahead of Sunday's opening round of the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship season, according to Toyota.

Toyota: Rebellion has pace to win at Silverstone

Toyota Motorsport GmbH technical director Pascal Vasselon pointed to the speed of the #1 Rebellion-Gibson R-13 in qualifying on Saturday and in free practice on Friday as evidence that it will challenge his TS050 Hybrids in the Silverstone 4 Hours. 

"If you look at the ideal times, putting all three sectors together, the top three cars are within one tenth in qualifying," he said. "If you look at Free Practice 2, the Rebellion is actually faster than us on traffic-free laps, consistently faster."

The #1 Rebellion qualified by Bruno Senna and Gustavo Menezes ended up half a second behind pole winners Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi, but Vasselon revealed that the best hypothetical lap for the fastest of the R-13s was only 0.092s behind.  

"Toyota #7 was at 1m35.993, Toyota #8 at 1m35.983s and Rebellion #1 at 1m36.025s," he explained. 

"We managed to be one-two on the grid because our drivers combined their best sectors and because the two drivers were very those together. This is good news for the Equivalence of Technology."

Vasselon suggested that the Rebellion could potentially win today's race, but said it was more likely at round two at Fuji when the new system of success handicaps introduced in LMP1 in the WEC kicks in.

"A privateer could win here at Silverstone, but at Fuji they should be strong for sure," he said. 

Vasselon conceded that Toyota's hybrid system should give the Japanese cars an advantage in traffic in the race. 

"We have a bit more flexibility on traffic which compensates for the fact that we have slightly less pace in free air, but on the other hand they have higher top speed — they can pass in places we cannot," he said. 

Menezes, who shares the #1 Rebellion together with Senna and Norman Nato, said that the WEC "had done a good job of closing the gap" between the factory Toyotas and the privateers. 

Asked by Motorsport.com if Rebellion could finish better than third, he said: "We're still hoping for more; right now it is uncertain.

"I think we’ve a little bit of work to do, there was a little bit more in there but not much. Now it’s the curiosity of race pace. We know Toyota has the boost optimisation for quali, and I think Silverstone is a big learning race for the EoT. 

"[Toyota] are always going to have a better situation in traffic with the boost, but we definitely see WEC did a good job of closing the gap. We don’t know how much by, we’ll find out over four hours today."

Jose Maria Lopez, who shares the #7 Toyota with Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway, said the Rebellion can "definitely" challenge for victory tomorrow, admitting the two R13s will be "difficult" to manage on a clean track.

"Honestly, we’ve had a few races where we arrive expected to be beaten by the privateers, and somehow we pull out a good performance," Lopez told Motorsport.com.

"We know especially in race trim they are very competitive, they have been faster in some sessions, so we expect them to be competitive tomorrow.

"In qualifying we can trim the boost in order to get an extra benefit, but I think we are starting a year that is gonna be different in many aspects. We won’t be at the front all the time, that’s for sure.

"They have a lot of downforce, they are much lighter, they have more power. For sure we can manage, but at one point in a clean track it’s gonna be difficult. I think it will be an interesting race. I think they can challenge tomorrow, definitely."

Changes to the EoT, the means by which the rule makers are trying to equate hybrid and non-hybrid cars, have resulted in the minimum weight of the Toyotas increasing by 28kg over the off season. 

The Silverstone 4 Hours WEC round starts at 12pm today.

The WEC 4 Hours of Silverstone will be streamed live on Motorsport.tv. Click here for more coverage details.

shares
comments
Davidson forced to withdraw from WEC opener

Previous article

Davidson forced to withdraw from WEC opener

Next article

Silverstone WEC: Toyota survives rain scare to take 1-2

Silverstone WEC: Toyota survives rain scare to take 1-2
Load comments
How Alpine's stunted Portimao charge kept Toyota clear Prime

How Alpine's stunted Portimao charge kept Toyota clear

Despite going stride for stride for pace at Portimao, Alpine’s grandfathered LMP1 couldn’t convert pole position into a sustained victory fight against Toyota. And due to rules and car limitations that are set in stone, the French manufacturer will be searching for solutions in its own battle of endurance.

WEC
Jun 14, 2021
Charting 100 world championship sportscar starts for Toyota Prime

Charting 100 world championship sportscar starts for Toyota

This weekend's Portimao 8 Hours round of the FIA World Endurance Championship marks the 100th world champion prototype start for Toyota. Here are the major milestones on the road to three figures since the earliest low-key days of its entry into the Group C arena nearly 40 years ago.

WEC
Jun 12, 2021
The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing Prime

The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing

Most of the column inches after the World Endurance Championship's opener were centred around the relative pace of the Hypercar class and the LMP2s, but there's another question that needs addressing in order for the new division to have a successful future

WEC
May 7, 2021
How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era Prime

How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era

Amid concerns that the new Hypercar class would be upstaged on debut by the spec LMP2 machines at Spa, Toyota delivered the pole and victory that the vast majority of observers expected. But neither car had a clean run, which gave the grandfathered Alpine LMP1 an unexpected shot at glory.

WEC
May 4, 2021
What to expect from sportscar racing's bold new Hypercar era Prime

What to expect from sportscar racing's bold new Hypercar era

A slim field of three cars will be entered in the Hypercar class for the first round of the World Endurance Championship's post-LMP1 age. But there are plenty of reasons for optimism with the new wave of manufacturer entries and competing class philosophies just around the corner

WEC
Apr 29, 2021
How Aston Martin scaled new heights in the Prodrive era Prime

How Aston Martin scaled new heights in the Prodrive era

The 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship kicks off at Spa this weekend, but for the first time since its 2012 inception there will be no factory-run Aston Martins in the GTE Pro class. That's especially notable because as a works entity, the Prodrive era of Aston Martin Racing that began in 2005 has been a success from the very start.

WEC
Apr 27, 2021
How 'Brilliant' Bob Wollek lived up to his nickname Prime

How 'Brilliant' Bob Wollek lived up to his nickname

Sportscar racing lost one of it's greatest talents 20 years ago today when Bob Wollek was knocked from his bicycle prior to the Sebring 12 Hours. The enigmatic Frenchman never won the Le Mans 24 Hours, but many still remember today why 'Brilliant Bob' became a legend

WEC
Mar 16, 2021
How Ferrari's Hypercar project could bolster Leclerc's legacy Prime

How Ferrari's Hypercar project could bolster Leclerc's legacy

Ferrari's planned return to the top category at the Le Mans 24 Hours has further heightened anticipation for the 2023 race. Few concrete details are currently known, but already it has a high-profile superstar angling for involvement, which would make a refreshing change

WEC
Mar 5, 2021