Bart, what was special about preparing for the 2014 FIA WEC season in your view ?
There are two special items; the first, is that it is special to be involved in the design of a new race car from a clean sheet of paper. The new Regulations for LMP1 have presented an opportunity for us to build a car that is focussed on what we specifically need as a team, whereas in our story up until now, we have used cars that have been more “consumer” oriented, cars that were designed to be completely flexible in terms of engine installation and therefore cars that had more compromises in their design. With the new Rebellion R-One cars, we have no need to have that complete flexibility, so the new cars are optimised to extract the best performance.
The second special item is that we have formed a new partnership between REBELLION Racing and Eat the Ball. Eat the Ball is a young and very dynamic company and their vision is very forward thinking. Eat the Ball produces high quality bread with 100% natural ingredients and they already have more than fifty thousand fans in social media. Rebellion Timepieces is also a young and dynamic company who produce exclusive wrist watches, so there is a synergy between us already. Being able to join two cool brands together creates a buzz and gives us great energy.
Recent media attention was focused on the new REBELLION R-One, what is the situation on the release of the car ?
The first roll-out will take place in the days after the WEC Prologue and then later we have a two day test planned during April before the cars will race for the first time. In addition to the Regulation changes in LMP1, there have also been significant Regulation changes in Formula One. This has put huge pressure on motor sport suppliers, and has made the job of getting all of the parts ready extremely difficult. It became apparent at the beginning of this new year that it was going to be tight to have all the parts when we wanted them and as the season has moved ever closer and the demands of F1 increased ahead of their first events, the supplier base just couldn’t cope.
No picture of the R-One or 3D rendering was released by the team or Oreca since the announcement last year at Le Mans, is the car so special you want to hide it ?
You will have seen when the factory cars first started to test that they ran in camouflage livery and they only issued pictures with the cars photographed in the distance or out of focus. No one wants to give away their secrets; a card player would not show you his hand before placing his bets, so I don’t think you should be surprised that the car stays hidden until the last moment.
Now that there are three manufacturers in the FIA WEC, all with Hybrid power, how does this affect the position of REBELLION Racing ? Is your aim is to be involved with a manufacturer in the near future ?
For 2014, it doesn’t affect us in a bad way at all! The organisers of the races want privateer LMP1 cars and the new Regulations are written in such a way as to give a Privateer (non-hybrid) entry a much more even chance against the factories than has been the case recently. With strong policing of the Regulations and enforcement of the spirit of the Regulations, Privateers like REBELLION Racing should be able to compete directly on the track against the factory cars. Behind the scenes it is harder for us to compete, the factories have access to enormous resources, but as long as we can be competitive on the tracks, that is what we are looking for. Partnering with a manufacturer in the future would probably help us to achieve the best possible results, so yes, for sure that is something that we would very much welcome. If we perform well as Privateers, that might help to open the door to working with a manufacturer in the future.
What can the fans expect of REBELLION Racing in 2014 in general and from the new R-One in particular ?
REBELLION Racing will be going in to every race with the target of finishing on the overall podium. We hope that the fans will support a private team pitting itself against the factory teams and we aim to give them something to cheer about. The new Rebellion R-One cars will be beautiful to look at and the sound of their Toyota V8 engines will be music to the ear! We hope that the R-One cars will become the fans’ favourite.
At the end of a strong race, Team No. 3 REBELLION Racing finishes third overall and first Team non-Hybrid. The REBELLION R-13 No. 1 finishes fourth overall.
At the end of the three qualifying sessions, the REBELLION R-13 cars #1 and #3 will start the 24 Hours of Le Mans in third and fifth positions on the starting grid.
After a good preparation, the REBELLION Racing Team is going to start the crazy Le Mans week!
For this first meeting of the FIA WEC Super Season, REBELLION Racing performed for its return to the LMP1 category. Both R-13 cars dominated the LMP1 thermal classification from the free practice to the 6 hours of racing, Toyota hybrids remain unreachable with the current EOT.