Nicolas Prost (REBELLION Racing)

Nicolas Prost confirms Rebellion extension through 2014

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Rebellion Racing is losing one of its aces, Neel Jani, to Porsche’s factory FIA World Endurance Championship effort at the end of 2013. But the team confirmed late Tuesday it has locked up Nicolas Prost, son of four-time World Champion, Alain, through 2014.

The younger Prost joined the team in 2009 and counts the 2012 Petit Le Mans overall win among his victories with the Bart Hayden-led team. He co-drives with Jani and Nick Heidfeld at this weekend’s Petit Le Mans, the American Le Mans Series season finale, in the team’s Lola B12/60 Toyota.

“I’m very comfortable here and I am always involved in the development of the team,” Prost said in a team release. “We have grown together over the years and it feels like absolutely the right thing to stay with REBELLION Racing.The R-One project is really exciting and I am proud to have been associated with the project from the first meeting.”

The aforementioned R-One is a new-for-2014 LMP1 prototype the team is building for 2014 as part of new FIA/ACO P1 regulations, to race in the WEC. Rebellion has been the lone privateer survivor this year against factory efforts from Audi and Toyota, while the OAK, Pescarolo, Strakka and JRM teams have temporarily disbanded their P1 efforts over the last two years due to high costs and issues with equivalency balancing as petrol-powered cars against diesel and gasoline hybrids.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”