Neel Jani's Paul Ricard race Blog
Neel Jani is racing for the Rebellion Racing team in this year’s Le Mans Series and Le Mans 24 Hours. The Swiss racer will team up with Nico Prost and Marco Andretti at La Sarthe in June in the teams Lola-Rebellion LMP1.
Last weekend Neel was in action for the Rebellion Racing team at the season opening Paul Ricard 8 Hours race. Here he tells lola-group.com how his weekend fortunes faired.
“I think the positives we can take out of the Paul Ricard event are that we found some really good pace during the race itself. We did quite a few changes for the race on the set up and suddenly we were really confident in our Lola-Rebellion. We were struggling a bit on Friday and Saturday with oversteer and then some understeer. We never understood why we never felt the car like this in testing but we finally got back to the good set-up and again we were pretty quick as the race went on.
“The build up to the Paul Ricard race was not easy for us but the team were terrific all weekend, very professional. We chose the Michelin tire when it was zero to five degrees at the test last month and we thought these tires might work when it was also a bit warmer, but it seemed like as soon as it went over 15 to 20 degrees that these tire were just destroying our balance and that’s why we struggled on Friday and Saturday. Sunday was a lot cooler, the coolest day of all, and the cooler it got in the afternoon, towards the evening, the quicker we got. The big shame was the problem we had in the first 40 minutes with the broken suspension and the puncture. This just destroyed our race and I’m sure cost us a podium finish.
“We are investigating what happened with the incident but it was a weird accident, because on the Lola-Rebellion there was nothing, no marks, because if I had contact at least a little scratch should have been on the Lola. I brought the car in and the team thought it was just a tire and I obviously did too. They checked the suspension but all seemed to be ok, so I left the pits and then as soon as I accelerated, the car felt strange and then at the end of the pitlane it was super bad and I had to come back to the pits very slowly.
“The team did a brilliant job to get us back out in to the race once again and we had very good pace, especially since we could compare it to car #13 Lola-Rebellion that finished third. They had a great performance, which was brilliant for the team, but we were up there and a bit quicker than them early on and we could have fought for a podium definitely. We eventually finished 7th in LMP1 so at least we got some points in what was a good recovery drive.
"Oh yes, we also got a penalty for spinning the wheel leaving the pitlane! A three minute penalty! I didn’t even leave a black mark on the pit box; there was no black mark but they gave us three minutes for that. It was actually an F3 tires mark from the support race but they still gave this massive penalty. Crazy decision!
“The Rebellion Racing team are now looking forward to Spa where I have had successes and wins in the past. I won in Formula Renault two-liter there in 2002 beating guys like Kubica, Hamilton and Klien. I know the track really well, so I’m confident and I think we also have a good car in high-speed corners with the Lola Rebellion LMP1 and we have a great team to make sure we get the optimum result. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you next time when I return from the great Spa-Francorchamps."