With confirmation that the second place overall finish from Rebellion Racing (plus fourth) at the Le Mans 24 Hours marks the end of the team’s programme, they will not travel to Bahrain for the final round of the 2020 FIA WEC, it seems appropriate to look back at the team’s years in the sport, and in particular, their 13 year Le Mans 24 Hour history, a history with no little success, but that fell short of the real heights that the team always sought.
So here is every car, listing every driver, and every result from their 13 year Le Mans 24 Hours history, plus a quick run-through the other achievements over the life of a team that added spice to proceedings for well over a decade!
It was baby steps in 2008 with the Speedy Racing Team of Alex Pesci joining forces with the successful Sebah Racing Team of Hugh and Bart Hayden.
That first year saw the teams continue with their established programmes at Le Mans, Speedy with the GT Spyker, Sebah with an LMP2 Lola which also scored a podium finish in the Le Mans Series at Barcelona
2009 and the team put their toe in the LMP1 waters with a single Lola Aston Martin (the predecessor to the restyled factory cars , alongside a return from the LMP2 car – the effort would yield the first Le Mans podium from the combined effort.
In the Le Mans Series the LMP1 car scored a second place finish at the Silverstone season finale whilst the LMP2 car took the class win there to add to an earlier podium finishing runner-up in class.
The first year with a pair of LMP1 cars, a pattern which has continued to the end of the programme aside from a single year in 2017 – the Aston Martin V12 was put aside for Rebellion Badged Judd V10s aboard the updated Lolas.
There was a single podium in the LMS at Portimão but in truth the year would be defined by sadness as Hugh Hayden passed away suddenly in October 2010 – His son Bart continued, and built a reputation of his own that matched his much-loved and respected dad in professionalism with a down-to-earth touch.
2011 and another new engine for the team’s Lolas, this time a customer V8 from Toyota, in fact the first engine that would find its way into the Toyota factory Hybrid programme.
Away from Le Mans the team took the Le Mans Series LMP1 title courtesy of a pair of podium finishes and some consistent points scoring.
Another season with the Toyota engine but now with both cars adorned in black and gold livery – and it would see one of the cars score the team’s best Le Mans result to that point, fourth overall.
The season also saw the team take the first of a pair of back to back wins at Petit Le Mans as well as an overall podium finish in the FIA WEC.
Final full season with the by now ageing Lolas, and continuing with the Toyota engine – not the team’s best Le Mans!
Elsewhere the team entered the 12 Hours of Sebring (2 cars), and the ALMS race at Laguna Seca finishing on the podium at both before taking their second consecutive win at Petit Le Mans. The full season effort in FIA WEC would see a pair of podium finishes.
A new era for the team as the first of what would eventually prove to be three different Oreca-designed cars came their was, this the super slippery Rebellion R-One, based on the chassis of the ORECA 05 LMP2 car. The Toyota V8 continued for a fourth (and final) Le Mans!
Le Mans would see a repeat of the previous year’s 4th place overall and a class win too, courtesy of the WEC’s one-season-only LMP1-L sub class.
A decision to switch to the AER P60 turbo V6 saw an extended re-engineering job and a late start to the season for the Rebellion team, high hopes were dispelled as both cars suffered a troubled Le Mans, both would finish, but well down the overall order as the factory Hybrids dominated.
Away from the racing there was tragedy for the team when long-time Chief Mechanic Damien ‘Damo’ Lewis was killed in an accident in Germany.
Further frustrations came the following year too with the cars suffering a range of mechanical and electrical woes – it would be the final Le Mans for the R-One, and the final one too for the P60 engine with the team.
Away from Le Mans there were a pair of early season podiums for the team in the WEC.
In 2017 it was back to the future – and back for a single year to LMP2 with the highly effective Oreca 07 Gibson, across a season where the Valiante Rebellion team showed very strongly, Le Mans was a low point – meltdown for the Hybrid LMP1s left the door open for Rebellion to take advantage but it was fumbled, trouble for the #32 car and late race problems for the #13 too which led to a couple of unwise decisions and an eventual disqualification – with season rivals Jackie Chan DC Racing scoring a double overall podium this ranks as a low point.
The #31 car would finish the season as LMP2 Champions with four class wins and four additional podiums across the nine race season with the sister #13 car also visiting the podium three times.
Bouncing back the team adopted a much more Oreca-factory look as the decision to return to LMP1 came with a new ruleset – the 4.5 litre Gibson V8-powered R13, based around the proven Oreca 07 LMP2 car looked quick and was quick, but the Hybrid Toyotas held almost all of the cards – Despite that, reliability and pace saw the pair of R13s come home third and fourth, another step up the ladder towards the hoped-for victory.
The 2018-19 FIA WEC season saw five overall podium finishes for the two cars plus an inherited win at Silverstone after both Toyotas were excluded, Rebellion scoring a resultant one-two
Same again in 2019 on the mechanical front, though the pair of R13s both sported a very different look for Le Mans with a pair of pop/street-art liveries by Tomyboy /Rocketbyz
The results were good rather than spectacular and the clock was now ticking very loudly on the programme, as a whole!
After the announcement that Rebellion would not, after all, be partnering with Peugeot on their 2022 Le Mans Hypercar programme and that the team would withdraw from the sport at the end of 2020 Le Mans took on the mantle of a farewell tour.
A fantastic qualifying lap by Gustavo Menezes saw the #1 car secure the mark as best ever lap at Le Mans by a non-hybrid car and, once again, the R13 Gibson package proved to be fast and reliable in the race proper – just not as fast and not quite as reliable as the Toyotas!
Over the period of the programme however the sustained pace of the Rebellion was looking set to make it tough for a delayed Hybrid to make up the lost time – That would leave the Rebellion team to celebrate not only their final Le Mans, but also their best ever result there – 2nd overall!
In the remainder of the FIA WEC the #1 Rebellion took a pair of overall race wins, plus three additional podium finishes aided and abetted by the Success Handicap system that progressively hobbled the otherwise dominant Toyotas. The #3 appeared only at Silverstone and Le Mans