Toyota drivers baffled by Rebellion's qualifying pace

Toyota drivers Brendon Hartley and Jose Maria Lopez have expressed surprise at Rebellion Racing's lack of pace in qualifying for this weekend's Fuji FIA World Endurance Championship round.

Toyota drivers baffled by Rebellion's qualifying pace

The Rebellion R-13 shared by Gustavo Menezes and Norman Nato only managed an average time of 1m26.163s during Saturday afternoon's pole shootout, leaving them 1.150s down on the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Hartley and Kazuki Nakajima.

It was also almost two seconds slower than the 1m24.359s average time set by the quickest Rebellion during qualifying for last year's Fuji round.

Ex-Formula 1 driver Hartley admitted that based on Rebellion's 2018 times he was heading into qualifying unsure whether either of the Toyotas would take pole.

"We still had quite a decent margin, which was a surprise," said Hartley. "We thought particularly the Rebellion would be a lot closer with the new success ballast, considering the laptimes they did last year.

"It was a surprise that today was not more of a fight. Our car is 50kg heavier than last year, we are definitely a lot slower. Honestly, we weren’t sure if they were hiding performance, particularly when you look at last year."

Read Also:

Lopez echoed Hartley's comments, highlighting that the Rebellion was not significantly penalised under the new championship points-based LMP1 handicap system that is being implemented for the first time this weekend.

By contrast, the Silverstone-winning #7 Toyota and the sister #8 car have been slowed to the tune of 1.4s and 1s per lap respectively at Fuji.

"What is strange is we keep getting slower every race, but somehow the Rebellion is two seconds slower than last year, with a better car," Lopez told Motorsport.com.

"Our car is much heavier, it is 1.4s slower than Silverstone. If you look at the laptimes, the LMP2 are the same or even faster this year, and the Rebellion is two seconds slower than last year. It’s difficult to know what they are doing."

Asked to explain why Rebellion was so much slower this year, Menezes pointed to the cooler temperatures of 2018 and the R-13 suffering from a general lack of grip.

"We know this track doesn’t suit our car and that already makes it difficult," the American driver told Motorsport.com. "Obviously the EoT did slow [Toyota] down, you can see in comparison with the laptimes from last year. 

"But it’s hard to compare because last year it was 20 degrees colder. On this track the tyres were well over the edge of the window, especially for a rear-wheel drive car.

"For sure we hoped to be closer, but there’s nothing we can do. And with Toyota, it’s hard to know where they are until qualifying. They are the king of playing games.

"It doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be where they are, but it’s hard to judge."

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Brendon Hartley

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Brendon Hartley

Photo by: JEP / LAT Images

shares
comments
Keating Porsche thrown out of Fuji qualifying
Previous article

Keating Porsche thrown out of Fuji qualifying

Next article

Ginetta says it had pace for Fuji front row

Ginetta says it had pace for Fuji front row
How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game Prime

How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game

The 956 set the bar at the dawn of Group C 40 years ago, and that mark only rose higher through the 1980s, both in the world championship and in the US. It and its successor, the longer-wheelbase 962, are arguably the greatest sportscars of all time.

WEC
Aug 25, 2022
Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes Prime

Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes

OPINION: While the focus has been on the exciting prospect of Ferrari vs Porsche at the Le Mans 24 Hours next year, BMW’s factory return to endurance racing should not be ignored. It won't be at the French classic next year as it focuses efforts on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, but could be a dark horse in 2024 when it returns to La Sarthe with the crack WRT squad.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2022
The history lessons Peugeot should have learned on its return Prime

The history lessons Peugeot should have learned on its return

The Peugeot 9X8 will make its FIA World Endurance Championship debut at Monza this weekend. The French manufacturer has gone radical and will be hoping it doesn’t need to overhaul its contender, as it did with its first Le Mans challenger…

WEC
Jul 8, 2022
How Formula E's double-duty drivers got on at Le Mans Prime

How Formula E's double-duty drivers got on at Le Mans

Eight Formula E drivers made the 7,000-mile sprint from the streets of Jakarta to the fabled Circuit de la Sarthe and every one had a story to share at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours. Despite a range of triumphs and disappointments, each driver doubling up on the day job played a key role in their teams' fortunes

Le Mans
Jun 14, 2022
How junior formula giant Prema is readying for its Le Mans future Prime

How junior formula giant Prema is readying for its Le Mans future

Prema remains a colossus in single-seaters, but the serial Formula 2 and Formula 3 title-winning squad has joined forces with top GT squad Iron Lynx for an attack on sportscars in the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series. Ahead of its debut at the Le Mans 24 Hours, its sights are firmly fixed on LMP2 glory – and a future in Hypercars next year...

Le Mans
Jun 8, 2022
The British rookies targeting a good first impression at Le Mans Prime

The British rookies targeting a good first impression at Le Mans

Three young Britons will make their first starts in the Le Mans 24 Hours this weekend in the highly-competitive 23-car GTE Am field. But how did they get here? Motorsport.com hears their stories.

Le Mans
Jun 7, 2022
The wingless wonder Peugeot hopes will restore it to Le Mans glory Prime

The wingless wonder Peugeot hopes will restore it to Le Mans glory

Peugeot went radical with the initial plan for its Le Mans Hypercar project, and then stuck to its guns. Here’s how things are shaping up a few weeks before the debut of the 9X8 in next month's Monza World Endurance Championship round

WEC
Jun 1, 2022
How Toyota’s sole survivor turned the tables at Spa Prime

How Toyota’s sole survivor turned the tables at Spa

After a chastening opening to the season at Sebring that ended in an enormous accident, Toyota's #7 crew got their World Endurance Championship underway with victory at a treacherously slippery Spa to make up for its sister car's Sebring defeat to Alpine, as Glickenhaus's promising qualifying turned to disaster in the race

WEC
May 9, 2022