Rebellion confirms unchanged line-up for 2016 WEC season

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Rebellion Racing has confirmed that it will race with an unchanged line-up for the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship season.

Rebellion has established itself as the leading privateer LMP1 team in recent years, defeating ByKolles to win the LMP1 Private Teams Drivers’ Trophy in 2015 with Nicolas Prost and Mathias Beche.

Prost and Beche will continue to race with Rebellion in 2016 alongside Nick Heidfeld, Dominik Kraihamer, Alexandre Imperatori and Matheo Tuscher across two cars.

“Rebellion Racing is pleased to confirm that their 2016 racing programme will centre around running a pair of upgraded Rebellion R-One AER LMP1 cars in the FIA World Endurance Championship, which includes the prestigious 24 Heures du Mans,” a statement from the team read.

“The Rebellion Racing cars will continue to be powered by AER engines in 2016, for the second year in a row. Both AER and the team have gained experience and knowledge to improve reliability and efficiency of the P60 V6 twin turbo engines.”

Rebellion is poised to attend the pre-season Prologue test at Paul Ricard in March, and will enter from the first round of the season in 2016 after not appearing until Le Mans last year.

“We have submitted entries for two cars for the full FIA WEC and 24 Hours of Le Mans,” team manager Bart Hayden said. “We will continue to use the AER P60 engine; last season it was a new installation in the Rebellion R-One chassis and whilst we achieved our target of taking the titles, there was still a lot of room for improvement on the reliability of the package.

“Together with AER we have been working hard on addressing the issues that came up in 2015 and we will make the necessary steps forward. We have a testing programme scheduled already and, unlike last year where we missed the opening rounds of the season, this year we will be ready from the beginning and we will be at the WEC Prologue at Paul Ricard in March.”

Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

In a final session Thursday night, Matt Campbell was fastest (1:35.802) in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 but still was off the times set by Westbrook and Taylor.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Click here for Session III (by class)

Combined speeds