14 October 2014
WEC: Rebellion takes 1-2 in Fuji LMP1-L
Andrea Belicchi, Dominik Kraihamer and Fabio Leimer claim their first LMP1-L win of 2014 at the head of a Rebellion WEC 1-2 in Japan.
Andrea Belicchi, Dominik Kraihamer and Fabio Leimer secured their first LMP1-L win of the season at the 6 Hours of Fuji, the fifth round of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship, while Nick Heidfeld, Nicolas Prost and Mathias Beche ensured the first one-two result this season for Rebellion Racing.
The two Toyota-powered R-Ones battled from the start of the race, with the #12 leading during the first stint before the #13 took the position after the first round of pit-stops. Car #12 then faced issues with sensors and had to stop in the garage for a thorough inspection by the mechanics and the engineers. With several laps lost, the car was no longer a contender for the win, so the team decided to use the remainder of the race as a test to explore different set-up options and improve the development of the R-One in the experienced hands of Heidfeld and Prost.
For car #13, the race was easier, with a comfortable lead over the #9 Lotus CLM car as Leimer and Belicchi enjoyed trouble-free stints before Kraihamer was back in the cockpit for the end of the race.
Bad luck struck the pursuing Lotus as a fire damaged the car while entering the pit- lane, but more drama was coming as a rear damper failure on the #13 Rebellion entry came close to ruining the efforts of the drivers and their crew. Fortunately, Kraihamer managed to drive the car back to the pits and the mechanics were able to quickly change the rear dampers and fitted a new engine cover. The #13 rejoined the race and was able to take the chequered flag in first place, while the retirement of the #9 Lotus allowed the recovering #12 Rebellion entry to claim the second spot on the podium.
"It's a satisfying day for us,” Kraihamer confirmed, “At the start, we were focused on our race versus car #12 and, after our first stops, we had a lead of about twelve seconds to them. After that, they had an issue and we were in a strong position to win the race but, at the end of the race, I went back in the car and we had problems with the failure of a rear damper.
“We had to stop for repairs and, afterwards, I had not full power available, I was not sure to finish the race, so we are happy to win it. I want to thank all the guys for their hard work, they really deserve the success but I know that we can also do better."
The LMP1-L win was the fifth in five races this season for Rebellion Racing, but the first for out-going GP2 Series champion Leimer on the very weekend he passed his crown to Jolyon Palmer.
"It's the first time we finish the race and we finish first so, yes, I am really happy with this first win in sportscars,” the Swiss ace commented, “I had trouble-free stints during the race but now we will see, in Shanghai and the remaining races, if we can do it again and beat car #12…."
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