After a strong performance on Qualifying day with Neel Jani taking the Pole position for the 65th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring, the race day didn’t unfold in the way that the REBELLION Racing team had hoped or expected.
From the drop of the green flag until the first round of pitstops Neel Jani kept the lead of the race, chased by the Action Express Racing Cadillacs #31 and #5.
After the first round of pitstops, the #31 Cadillac took the lead, while Rebellion Racing lost some time with a faulty air-jack lance which was compounded when Neel Jani had to serve a drive-through penalty for a pitlane infringement during the first pit-stop.
From that point, despite an issue with the starter motor in the second hour of the race, the REBELLION Racing #13 Oreca was battling strongly in the top 5/ top4 recovering ground on the leaders as Neel Jani, Sébastien Buemi and Nick Heidfeld were often the quickest on track.
In the fourth hour of the race the situation moved from a challenging one to a dramatic one. The team was forced to stop the car and go « behind the wall » as a failure of the alternator meant an unscheduled stop for replacement was needed and the Swiss team’s hopes for the victory were dashed.
The alternator change took some time due to its being located inside the bellhousing, but once the new one was fitted, the REBELLION Racing #13 Oreca rejoined the race. Unfortuately a few laps later the team noticed another electrical problem and a second alternator failure was diagnosed.
The car went behind the wall again for an additional stop and more laps were lost before the car rejoined for a second time.
Sadly, this time the #13 car completed even less laps than previously as a third alternator failure forced the team to call the car back to the paddock again and this ultimately lead to the retirement of the car.
Bart Hayden REBELLION Racing Team Manager : "The team worked hard to give the drivers a great car for the 12 hours of Sebring. We felt strong going into the race, but in the end we had problems that took our car out of contention. Early in the race, the car had great pace and we could have been battling for the victory. The REBELLION Racing drivers and team showed a lot of speed and competitiveness. The cracking Pole position from Neel Jani and the pace from the three drivers in the first three hours of the race were the proof of our right level at this year’s 12 Hours of Sebring. We were all very motivated to do well in this race, but unfortunately for us it wasn’t meant to be. We will investigate the problems and fix them and bounce back stronger for the next event."
The Team will start the 6 Hours of COTA this weekend in Austin, Texas, two weeks after their victory in this World Endurance Championship season at the 6 Hours of Mexico.
First victory of the FIA WEC season for Vaillante REBELLION. The Oreca 07 #31 wins the 6 Hours of Mexico. The #13 ends up in fifth position after an amazing race.
The World Endurance Championship resumes this weekend in Mexico after more than a month and a half break.
Oreca 07s #31 and #13 crossed the finish line in second and fourth positions after 6 hours of fierce race on the German circuit.