Andretti heads for LeMans classic with Rebellion Racing
With two LMP1 Lola coupé - Rebellions entered for the race, REBELLION Racing will face new challenges in la Sarthe. The team will compete at Le Mans with two LMP1 cars for their first time under the REBELLION Racing name. Last year, under the Speedy Racing Team Sebah banner the Swiss team entered one Lola Coupé - Aston Martin in LMP1 and a Lola Coupé – Judd in LMP2. Both cars took the checkered flag with the #33 car finishing 2nd in LMP2. The Team’s first appearance at la Sarthe was in 2005 (as Sebah Racing).
REBELLION Racing’s aim for the forthcoming 24 Heures du Mans is no less than to be the first placed petrol car to be strongly placed amongst the diesel cars. REBELLION Racing will face extremely competitive opposition with 9 factory diesel Peugeots and Audis and 7 petrol cars including a pair of factory Aston Martins.
The diesel cars are still some way ahead of the petrol cars, so it will be tough to race against them. Diesel-powered cars have dominated the LMP1 category over for the past four years. A number of regulation changes have been introduced to try to bring the performance of the petrol cars closer to their diesel equivalents but REBELLION Racing, like other teams running petrol LMP1s, will still have a mountain to climb. Diesel race engine technology is relatively new compared to petrol, so bigger steps in performance can be achieved, making it easier to compensate for the changes imposed by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest.
REBELLION Racing’s pair of Lolas will be driven by 6 drivers mixing speed, experience and professionalism.
In car #12, the young and talented duo of the team’s Le Mans Series regulars Neel Jani from Switzerland and Frenchman Nicolas Prost – son of former Formula One World Champion Alain Prost – is boosted by another legendary name from the world of motorsport, American Marco Andretti, grand-son of Former 1978 Formula One World Champion Mario and son of US legend Michael Andretti.
Marco commented : “ when I was contacted by the Swiss Rebellion Racing team I thought, ‘why not?’ I love those long stints even at night, therefore I immediately accepted the invitation. I met both Nicolas and Neel while I was competing in the A1GP Series two years ago and we became good friends. I am very excited to race at this famous track where my family has been very successful in the past.”
Marco (Michael) Andretti was born March 13, 1987 in Nazareth, Pennsylvania in the USA. He won the 2004 Barber Formula Dodge National and Southern class. In 2005 he raced in the Star Mazda series and also competed in six races in the Indy Pro Series, winning three of them. Marco moved to Indy Racing League in 2006, earning the Rookie of the Year performance at Indianapolis 500 and finishing second in the race. From that time, Marco's career has been focused on Indy Racing League finishing 7th in the series in 2006 and 2008 and scoring another Indy 500 podium in 2008. Marco repeated the same performance last week with another third place at the 2010 Indy 500.
In car #13, the team’s experienced and talented regular Le Mans Series drivers, Italian Andrea Belicchi and Frenchman Jean-Christophe Boullion, are joined by Guy Smith from Great Britain, winner of the 2003 edition of the 24 Heures du Mans with Bentley.
Guy joined his car #13 teammates at the 8 Hours of Le Castellet, the opening round of the 2010 Le Mans Series, where the team achieved a podium finish.
Andrea Belicchi and Jean-Christophe Boullion are currently third in the LMS drivers classification after the 1000 km of Spa.
Team Manager, Bart Hayden said how much REBELLION Racing were looking forward to the event, “we head to Le Mans with great optimism, in spite of the challenge posed by the diesel powered cars in our category. The Le Mans Series races earlier this year have helped us in our preparations for the 24 hour race and we can’t wait to get out there and pit our cars against the might of the factory teams. We have really strong driver line-ups and our technical partners at Lola, Engine Developments and Michelin have all worked hard to help us develop the cars. We will aim to deliver our optimum performance and with a little good fortune, we hope to figure strongly in the final classifications of the race.”
The two Lola - Rebellion LMP1 cars will take to the legendary 13.4-kilometre Le Mans track for the first time on Wednesday afternoon, between 4pm and 8pm, for practice. The first qualifying session takes place between 10pm to midnight on Wednesday evening.
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