Andrea Belicchi, Dominik Kraihamer and Fabio Leimer secured their first LMP1-L win of the season after the 6 Hours of Fuji, the fifth round of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship.
Nick Heidfeld, Nicolas Prost and Mathias Beche finished second for the first one-two this season for REBELLION Racing.
At the start of the race, the two Rebellion R-One Toyotas #12 and #13 battled for the lead, with Mathias Beche in #12 and Dominik Kraihamer in #13. The #12 Rebellion R-One Toyota led during the first stint then #13 took the leading position after the first round of pitstops.
Car #12 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, car #12 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 Rebellion R-One with Nick Heidfeld and Nicolas Prost.
For car #13, the race was easier with a comfortable lead over the #9 Lotus CLM car. Fabio Leimer and Andrea Belicchi had trouble free stints and Dominik Krahaimer was back in the car for the end of the race.
Bad luck struck the #9 Lotus CLM car as a fire damaged the car while entering the pit lane. But more drama was coming. A rear damper failure on the #13 Rebellion R-One Toyota was close to ruining the efforts of the drivers and their crew. Dominik 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 Rebellion R-One Toyota rejoined the race and was able to take the chequered flag as a winner.
With the retirement of the #9 Lotus CLM car, the #12 Rebellion R-One Toyota took the second spot on the podium.
Today’s LMP1-L win is the fifth in five races this season for REBELLION Racing.
Dominik Kraihamer – Rebellion R-One Toyota N°13 : “It’s a satisfying day for us. At the start we were focused on our race versus car #12, after our first stops we had a lead of about 12 seconds to them. After they had an issue and we were in a strong position to win the race. 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 after I had not full power available, I was not sure to finish the race. We are happy to finish the race and 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.”
Fabio Leimer – Rebellion R-One Toyota N°13 : “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. I had trouble free stints during the race. Now we will see in Shanghai and the remaining races if we can do it again and beat car #12. Japan was a new cultural experience for me and I enjoyed meeting the fans here.”
Andrea Belicchi – Rebellion R-One Toyota N°13 : “It’s like a new beginning, it’s today that our season starts. The past races we didn’t finish, we had problems and now we have more experience with the car, everyone had more driving time. I hope that we can challenge car #12 at every race now. I am really pleased for our crew, their hard work and dedication is rewarded with this win.”
Nicolas Prost – Rebellion R-One Toyota #12 : “Congratulations to my teamates. Car #13 has had very bad luck from the beginning of the year and they deserve to win one race. Anyway, we had a big fight because they were running very well all weekend long. So congratulations to them. For us, it was a complicated weekend. We had a lot of problems which we didn’t have until this weekend. We were quite lucky since the beginning of the season. I hope we’ll resolve everything for the next race. Now, we have to find and fix the problems. We learnt a lot today and all of that will be useful for Shanghaï.”
Nick Heidfeld – Rebellion R-One Toyota #12 : “Congratulations to car #13. They won today and scored their first points of the season. It’s nice because they had a lot of trouble before this event. This time, we had some technical problems. We lost quite some time in the pit and decided to do some tests with the car straight on to develop it as we haven’t been able to do much testing this year. Even if we had a bad race, we finished second. That’s the positive thing.”
Mathias Beche – Rebellion R-One Toyota #12 : “It was a pretty tough week-end. We had a few issues but it was better to have them here than at Le Mans for sure. On my side, the first stint, I had to be carefully with the tyres. I got quite an understeering balance through high speed corners and overheat on front brakes. On my first stop, we tried to fix it and that lost us our lead. Soon I was back on track, I started to have some engine cuts and I had to do the stint without traction control and then the team preferred to bring the car back and take a wise decision to identify the problem for the future race and then the end of the race were more or less a test session. We found good things and we learnt for the future.”