Nick Heidfeld says he hopes the incoming Lotus team will prove strong competition for his Rebellion Racing squad having been uncontested in the LMP1-L class so far this year.
Part of the a new sub-category designed to entice privateer LMP1 teams in a field otherwise dominated by the better-funded manufacturer entries from Audi, Toyota and Porsche, Rebellion Racing's competition has so far been limited to an inter-team battle between its two cars.
However, this is set to change from the upcoming fourth World Endurance Championship round at the Circuit of the Americas, with the return of Lotus, which will enter its own AER-engined LMP1-L entry for Pierre Kaffer, Christophe Bouchut and Christijan Albers.
A much-delayed entry following a change of engine supplier prior to the season, Rebellion Racing driver Heidfeld is hoping Lotus can be quick from the off to provide the Swiss outfit with some much-desired competition.
“I hope they will be on the pace,” he continued. “We always need someone to fight against but you never know how it is going to be. They are coming to the race for the first time, so they will need some time to move forward with the car.”
Heidfeld, along with team-mates Nicholas Prost and Mathias Beche, currently lead the LMP1-L class over Dominik Kraihamer, Fabio Leimer and Andrea Belicchi, and are even fourth in the overall standings having finished fourth at the Le Mans 24 Hours in May.
Indeed, Heidfeld was thrilled with the result at Le Mans with a car that out-lasted many better-funded, factory supported rivals despite having undergone a fraction of their development.
“We have three big manufacturers, which we can't fight, and our car is very new,” he told Crash.net
. “When we went to Le Mans, we only ran the car for the first time seven weeks before that. If you look at the top teams doing tens of thousands of kilometres, where we had done just two tests, then to beat them was fantastic.
“Our pace was OK for a privateer it'd be nice if we could get a bit closer, but Rebellion did a fantastic job to create a car of that speed and reliability.”