Vaillante REBELLION finished the last race of the 2017 FIA WEC season with both cars on the podium and the 2017 FIA World Endurance Champion title in the LMP2 category with their #31 Oreca-Gibson 07 car.
At 4:00 pm local time, the race in Bahrain started with Bruno Senna and David Heinemeier Hansson driving the two Vaillante REBELLION Oreca 07s, #31 and #13. From the first moments, the Brazilian driver was battling with Oliver Jarvis in the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing car, both drivers wanting to finish the season on the top step of the podium.
After an hour of racing and having climbed several positions in the rankings, a short off track excursion dropped the #13 car back to 8th in class.
At the first driver changes, Julien Canal took over in car #31 and Mathias Beche in car #13.
A little while later, whilst in P2 in the LMP2 category, following a minor contact earlier in the race with an LMP2 from the team CEFC Manor TRS Racing, a penalty was announced for car #31, meaning 5 seconds would need to be added at the next pit stop. Despite this longer stop, Julien Canal kept his second position behind the Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 in the fight for the LMP2 World Champion title.
Meanwhile, in car #13, Mathias Beche was making a rapid climb up the rankings and was getting closer to the podium! Shortly after the second hour of racing, the two Vaillante REBELLION cars were P2 and P3 in class.
At the half-race point, Nicolas Prost and Nelson Piquet Jr were at the wheels of the Oreca 07s #31 and #13 respectively. Due to an offset pit stop strategy with the Jackie Chan DC Racing #38, the tension was rising on the track and in the pits. At each opposing pit stop, #31 and #38 each took the lead of the Championship.
After the fourth hour of the race, Bruno Senna and Mathias Beche were back at the wheel of the Vaillante REBELLION cars.
Going into the last hour of racing at the Bahrain International Circuit, nothing was certain in the LMP2 category and the Vaillante REBELLION cars continued to push hard behind the Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 in this last decisive race. A pit stop by the #38 car to change drivers from Ho-Pin Tung to Oliver Jarvis allowed the Vaillante REBELLION cars to take the lead in the category.
But then drama as a power steering problem in car #31 hampered Bruno Senna’s performance for the last 45 minutes of the race! With good strategy and exceptional driving from Bruno, he managed to consolidate his position, going on to win the race and also win the title of 2017 World Endurance LMP2 Champions.
The Vaillante REBELLION #13 followed home car #38 to take the third step of the podium and to bring the #13 car into fourth place in the Championship.
The Vaillante REBELLION team is proud of the work done by its drivers, engineers and mechanics throughout this incredible 2017 season!
Bart Hayden, Team Manager:
“What an intense race and season! For much of this race I thought that the #38 car was looking like they were going to win, but when we observed that they were having trouble getting a full stint from their fuel tank, we saw the opportunity. We were leading when Bruno reported the power steering loss, so we suddenly thought that fate was going to twist again. But, through sheer will and determination, Bruno brought the car home to win and it’s a truly fantastic result. Hats off to the Jota Jackie Chan DC Racing car #38 guys, they made a real fight of it and they were a bit unlucky today, but these things play out through the season. I’d like to say a big thank you to the whole team for improving throughout the season and for digging deep when it mattered. Winning the Championship in the face of strong competition makes the result taste even sweeter.”
Bruno Senna, #31 driver:
“The team did an exceptional job. Everybody improved their job, mechanics, engineers and all the drivers. We all became stronger all along the season. It really changed during the oversea part of the season. I want to thank all these guys who were extraordinary. Winning this championship is an amazing feeling!”
Julien Canal, #31 driver:
“After my stint I was not really confident for the win today. But after the amazing job of my two teammates, I changed my mind! I really want to thank theses guys. Nico and Bruno did a really good job and they really good driver but also one of my best friends. They increased my sense of competition, my team spirit and my performances on track. We worked a lot this year and I want to thank all the team!”
Nicolas Prost, #31 driver:
“Until the race is over, nothing is done. When I heard Bruno talking about the power steering issue, everybody was tense but confident about Bruno and his capacity of crossing the finish line in first position. Our opponents are very good competitors, I want to congratulate them for their amazing season. I want to thank all the team for this exceptional season. It’s so nice to drive with these guys!”
Mathias Beche, #13 driver:
“First of all congratulations to the #31 for their title, it is a deserved result and I am sincerely happy for them. Regarding our race, we would have obviously liked to play the win and we all fought well on the track to go up. During my last 3 stints we had a small mechanical problem and the car was extremely difficult to drive. I just did not have the pace to go in front. I really gave everything to come back but it was not possible. Finishing with a podium in such a competitive category remains a very good result. I would like to thank the technical team of Vaillante REBELLION, the mechanics who gave much of their time and their passion, and of course Alexandre Pesci for the trust he has placed in me for 5 years now.”