Rebellion left baffled by Spa wet-weather struggles

Rebellion Racing has no explanation for the lack of wet-weather pace that prevented it from challenging Toyota in last weekend's Spa FIA World Endurance Championship round. 

Rebellion left baffled by Spa wet-weather struggles

The solo Rebellion R-13 started from pole position after heading all four timed sessions, each held in dry conditions, prior to the race, but lost out to the pair of Toyota TS050 Hybrids when the race went green after four laps on the wet track behind the safety car. 

Bruno Senna, Gustavo Menezes and Norman Nato fell a lap down on the best of the Japanese cars in the first hour of the six-hour contest and were never able to make up the lost ground thereafter on the way to a distant third place.

Read Also:

The Gibson-powered car was up to seven seconds off the pace around the 4.35-mile Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps when the track was at its wettest. 

Nato said: "Tricky conditions have been difficult for us in the past, and it has been difficult today, more than expected to be honest. 

"We knew that we couldn’t fight with the Toyota [in the rain], but we shouldn't have been that far away — maybe a second or two maximum, but not seven seconds. We just need to understand what’s happening. 

"So far we don’t know what the problem is: it’s a lack of grip in general."

Nato explained that the car was unable to switch on the Michelin tyres, a problem encountered by Rebellion in both the wet and the dry over the 2018/20 WEC superseason when the LMP1 privateers were running tyres designed for the hybrid Toyota. 

A development programme ahead of the current campaign was designed to address that problem. 

Nato explained that the biggest problem for the Rebellion drivers came when there was standing water on the track. 

"As soon as there is water we are suffering with aquaplaning and general grip — it wasn't easy to keep the car on track," he said.

Rebellion was a strong favourite to reprise its 2019/20 WEC victories at Shanghai and Austin because it was running a significantly smaller penalty than the Toyotas under the system of success handicaps introduced for LMP1 this year. 

The R-13 was penalised by 1.58 seconds a lap, the #8 Toyota by 3.08s and the winning #7 Toyota by 3.52s.

Rebellion was also running in high-downforce specification, whereas Toyota compromised its performance at Spa by choosing to run the low-downforce version of its Le Mans kit.

The Rebellion was competitive over the final three and a half hours of the race after the track dried. It was seven hundredths faster than the winning Toyota over its fast 50 laps in this portion of the race. 

Nato tried to draw positives from the Spa weekend, adding: "It’s a negative in terms of race result, but it’s not a negative in terms of a weekend because the pole we had was quite good.

"During the race, we tried to give the feedback to the engineers on tyre pressures to understand it for the future."

Nato suggested that it is imperative that Rebellion overcome the problem before the Le Mans 24 Hours round of the WEC on September 19/20. 

"If at Le Mans we have these kind of tricky conditions, it’s going to be a tough race for us," he said. "We need to wake up and find at least half of the problem for Le Mans."

#1 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R-13 - Gibson: Bruno Senna, Gustavo Menezes, Norman Nato

#1 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R-13 - Gibson: Bruno Senna, Gustavo Menezes, Norman Nato

Photo by: JEP / Motorsport Images

shares
comments
WEC targeting a "minimum" of six races in 2021

Previous article

WEC targeting a "minimum" of six races in 2021

Next article

Porsche fuel-saving was "tough mentally", says Estre

Porsche fuel-saving was "tough mentally", says Estre
Load comments

About this article

Series WEC
Event Spa-Francorchamps
Drivers Norman Nato
Teams Rebellion Racing
Author Gary Watkins
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
Why Ferrari is ending its 50-year top-flight sportscar racing exile Prime

Why Ferrari is ending its 50-year top-flight sportscar racing exile

Making a return to top-flight sportscar racing after 50 years away, Ferrari will enter the Le Mans Hypercar ranks in 2023. The Italian marque denies the link with Formula 1's new cost cap that frees up resources, but it's certainly no coincidence...

WEC
Feb 25, 2021
The GTE dilemma that IMSA has created for the WEC Prime

The GTE dilemma that IMSA has created for the WEC

The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s decision to scrap its GT Le Mans class for 2022 raises the question of whether the FIA World Endurance Championship should phase out GTE cars. But it's a much harder decision than it appears on the surface.

WEC
Feb 3, 2021
The ground-up refresh behind Toyota's new Le Mans challenger Prime

The ground-up refresh behind Toyota's new Le Mans challenger

Toyota's new GR010 contender for the World Endurance Championship's Hypercar era has little in common with the LMP1 TS050 that preceded it. But within the confines of the scaled back new rules, its latest challenger will be no less formidable a prospect

WEC
Jan 22, 2021
The tiny increments that decided the final LMP1-era WEC Prime

The tiny increments that decided the final LMP1-era WEC

The system of success handicaps devised by the FIA World Endurance Championship to level the LMP1 playing field in the category's swansong season ended up having a counterproductive effect, as COVID cancellations also played in the champions' favour.

WEC
Dec 5, 2020
Why Audi’s shock return promises a new age for sportscars Prime

Why Audi’s shock return promises a new age for sportscars

OPINION: The news that Audi will return to Le Mans means we'll at last get to see the fight promised in 2012 against Peugeot and Toyota. It also gives LMDh a tangible form, which could open the floodgates for more like-minded marques to follow suit…

WEC
Dec 1, 2020
The eternal debate revived after the 2019/20 WEC season Prime

The eternal debate revived after the 2019/20 WEC season

It may have been missed amid the clamour over Lewis Hamilton's seventh F1 title, but Britain had another world champion crowned last weekend. Mike Conway's WEC crown raises an old conundrum - does title glory make up for the pain of Le Mans defeat?

WEC
Nov 19, 2020