This Saturday (07) we saw endurance racing going back to the late 90s and the early 2000s in the FIA World Endurance Championship, as the challenge for the LMP1 manufacturers during the 6 Hours of Spa-Francrochamps was to race with the least of problems, something that probably brought the red alert into the garages of Porsche, Audi and Toyota.
Energy recovery systems, engines, bodywork, tires, everything suffered some kind of problem and no side was safe in the top class field, which also brought another element to the mix: the shadow of the non-hybrid privateer entries was bigger than ever in this race, with the No. 13 Rebellion Racing R-One coming home in third overall and the No. 12 entry right behind in fourth, repeating their feats from the 6 Hours of Silverstone.
If the measures tried to balance manufacturers and privateers aren’t exactly working, the non-hybrid side can only rely on reliability to compensate the average gap of around 5 seconds per lap from the hybrid entries, something that tends to double at Le Mans. A clean race can even put their odds high enough to dream with a podium, and although really distant, an overall win isn’t something unreal for Rebellion and ByKolles Racing.
Most of the manufacturers’ machines have around 50% of their total horsepower coming from the ERS, and a malfunctioning system can make you lose a lot of time, as experienced by Porsche at the start of the race. Toyota on the other hand, will have to take care of their engines, as the one of the No. 5 TS050 Hybrid blew up in the most important moment, when they were leading by a huge margin and in the final part of the race.
Another thing that may bring trouble for the hybrid field is related to body and tires, as puncture affected one of the Porsche 919 Hybrid models, and body and floor damage made Audi and Toyota crews work on their cars from time to time. Considering that there are more full throttle sections at Le Mans, problems that would be treated lightly like contacts, bad approaches to the corners and punctures can be a slow down factor to any car or even a terminal problem, making a sure contender get reduced to scrap. Of course this can happen to the Rebellion R-Ones and the CLM P1/01, but it’s a more common problem to the factory teams, given the bad memories that Audi and Toyota have with crashes in France.
Out of curiosity, hardly any of the cars from ORECA or those with their knowledge applied had a troublesome run at Spa-Francorchamps in the LMP1 and LMP2 classes, and given the fact that the Rebellion R-One finally left their troubles related to the AER engine behind, the good work of the French company can also count on their favor.
One month may be enough for the factory squads to fix their problems, but it may not be enough too, and if the second alternative becomes true, they know who will be right on their heels.
PHOTO: Rebellion Racing