Grosjean not expecting to challenge for points at Spa

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Lotus driver Romain Grosjean does not believe that he will be fighting for points in the Belgian Grand Prix this weekend, but felt that his practice runs went better than he was expecting on Friday at Spa.

The French driver finished 13th in the first free practice session and 14th in FP2, but conceded in a media session on Friday evening that the lack of power in the Renault engine is proving particularly costly at Spa.

“It was not as bad as I was expecting in FP1,” Grosjean said. “We had a small technical issue on the rear of the car early on in the run, so hopefully that will explain the loss of performance. We knew it would be a track where we suffer.”

When asked to predict how he would fare during qualifying and the race, the Lotus driver said that under normal conditions he expects to be scrapping outside of the points.

“At the moment, I wouldn’t say that the top ten is possible,” he admitted. “Probably inbetween 12th and 15th, 16th.

“But again, the weather may change and that always helps you a little bit when you’re struggling.”

Grosjean’s teammate, Pastor Maldonado, also endured a difficult practice on Friday, culminating in a huge crash at the beginning of FP2. However, he was more optimistic than Grosjean when it came to gauging Lotus’ chances of points.

“The car looks, to be honest, not too bad,” he said. “Let’s do our best tomorrow. I think still we have a good chance to be close to the top ten, and then in the race, everything can happen.”

Rebellion confirms LMP1 return, all-star line-up for WEC super season

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Rebellion Racing has confirmed it will return to the LMP1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 2018/19 ‘super season’ with an all-star line-up featuring Le Mans winners Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer.

Rebellion raced in LMP1 as a privateer between 2009 and 2016 before stepping down to LMP2 for the most recent season, capturing the class titles at the first attempt.

Following a push from the WEC and Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to make LMP1 more appealing to privateer teams, Rebellion announced on Wednesday it would return to the premier class for the 2018/19 season with a two-car effort.

WEC LMP2 champion Bruno Senna will return with Rebellion next year, as will Mathias Beche, with the pair set to be joined by four new faces.

The most notable arrivals are Porsche factory drivers Lotterer and Jani, both of whom were left without an LMP1 drive following the closure of the German manufacturer’s program at the end of the season.

American racer Gustavo Menezes will also join Rebellion, stepping up after two years in LMP2, while outstanding 2017 rookie Thomas Laurent completes the Swiss team’s line-up.

“I am looking forward to coming back where my endurance career started nine years ago,” said Jani.

“Rebellion Racing played a huge role in my career and also helped me become a factory driver for Porsche. When Porsche stopped in LMP1, it was clear for me that I wanted to race again for Rebellion.

“With the new regulations, I hope we can reach the overall podium at Le Mans and with a bit of luck, maybe we can even grab some wins during the super season of WEC.”

“I am very happy to join the champion Rebellion team,” added three-time Le Mans winner Lotterer.

“The LMP1 project is very exciting and to be able to go on with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA WEC challenge is something I did not want to miss.

“I am motivated and looking forward to have a great time with great people there.”