Menezes “ecstatic” to become first US outright WEC winner

Rebellion Racing LMP1 driver Gustavo Menezes says he is “ecstatic” to become the first American driver to win an FIA World Endurance Championship race outright at Silverstone.

Menezes “ecstatic” to become first US outright WEC winner

Menezes and his teammates in the #3 Rebellion R-13-Gibson, Mathias Beche and Thomas Laurent, finished third on the road at the British track, but were handed a shock victory when both Toyota TS050 Hybrids - which finished four laps ahead - were excluded from the results for technical infringements.

It means that Los Angeles native Menezes, a former LMP2 class champion, becomes the first US racer to win a race outright since the start of the formation of the current WEC in 2012.

“I’m absolutely ecstatic,” commented the 23-year-old, who stepped up to LMP1 at the start of 2018 with Rebellion. “I haven’t felt this happy for so long. It’s my first win since COTA last year, and it feels very special.

“Having spent some time living in the UK during the earlier stages of my career, Silverstone is something of a ‘home’ track for me and it’s a great feeling to take my first LMP1 victory there.

“Obviously it wasn’t the ideal way to do it, but ultimately, winning a race is winning a race, no matter how it comes and we will grab this result with both hands.

“All the boys at Rebellion have worked so hard to get the whole LMP1 project off the ground and to develop the car to the stage where it is now, and they really deserve this one-two finish.”

Key to victory for Menezes and his teammates was overcoming the sister #1 Rebellion car, which was down to two drivers – Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer – after Bruno Senna broke his ankle in a practice crash on Friday.

The #1 pair led their teammates for most of the distance, helped by the #3 car losing time at the start when Beche made contact with Stephane Sarrazin’s #17 SMP Racing BR1 at the first corner and spun and then dropping further ground during a mid-race safety car period.

But the #3 regained the upper hand when the #1 car had to make a final-hour rear bodywork change to fix a fault tail-light.

Recalled Menezes: “The pace was really good in my first two stints, and the team asked if I would be fit to get back into the car for the race’s final hour. It’s always an honour to be offered the opportunity to bring it home, so I said, ‘let’s give it a shot’.

“In the meantime, Thomas had cleared the [#17] SMP and slashed the gap to third place from more than 1m40s to 1m12s, which was still an extremely tall order but I knew I just had to dig as deep as I could and see what was possible.

“The car felt incredible and I quickly settled into a really strong rhythm, and I’d got it down to only 26 seconds when Neel hit trouble.”

Podium: third place #3 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R-13: Mathias Beche, Gustavo Menezes, Thomas Laurent

Podium: third place #3 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R-13: Mathias Beche, Gustavo Menezes, Thomas Laurent

Photo by: Paul Foster

shares
comments
Ferrari needs more BoP help despite victory – Calado

Previous article

Ferrari needs more BoP help despite victory – Calado

Next article

Toyota will not appeal Silverstone double exclusion

Toyota will not appeal Silverstone double exclusion
Load comments

About this article

Series WEC
Drivers Gustavo Menezes
Teams Rebellion Racing
Author Jamie Klein
How Ferrari's Hypercar project could bolster Leclerc's legacy Prime

How Ferrari's Hypercar project could bolster Leclerc's legacy

Ferrari's planned return to the top category at the Le Mans 24 Hours has further heightened anticipation for the 2023 race. Few concrete details are currently known, but already it has a high-profile superstar angling for involvement, which would make a refreshing change

WEC
Mar 5, 2021
Why Ferrari is ending its 50-year top-flight sportscar racing exile Prime

Why Ferrari is ending its 50-year top-flight sportscar racing exile

Making a return to top-flight sportscar racing after 50 years away, Ferrari will enter the Le Mans Hypercar ranks in 2023. The Italian marque denies the link with Formula 1's new cost cap that frees up resources, but it's certainly no coincidence...

WEC
Feb 25, 2021
The GTE dilemma that IMSA has created for the WEC Prime

The GTE dilemma that IMSA has created for the WEC

The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s decision to scrap its GT Le Mans class for 2022 raises the question of whether the FIA World Endurance Championship should phase out GTE cars. But it's a much harder decision than it appears on the surface.

WEC
Feb 3, 2021
The ground-up refresh behind Toyota's new Le Mans challenger Prime

The ground-up refresh behind Toyota's new Le Mans challenger

Toyota's new GR010 contender for the World Endurance Championship's Hypercar era has little in common with the LMP1 TS050 that preceded it. But within the confines of the scaled back new rules, its latest challenger will be no less formidable a prospect

WEC
Jan 22, 2021
The tiny increments that decided the final LMP1-era WEC Prime

The tiny increments that decided the final LMP1-era WEC

The system of success handicaps devised by the FIA World Endurance Championship to level the LMP1 playing field in the category's swansong season ended up having a counterproductive effect, as COVID cancellations also played in the champions' favour.

WEC
Dec 5, 2020
Why Audi’s shock return promises a new age for sportscars Prime

Why Audi’s shock return promises a new age for sportscars

OPINION: The news that Audi will return to Le Mans means we'll at last get to see the fight promised in 2012 against Peugeot and Toyota. It also gives LMDh a tangible form, which could open the floodgates for more like-minded marques to follow suit…

WEC
Dec 1, 2020
The eternal debate revived after the 2019/20 WEC season Prime

The eternal debate revived after the 2019/20 WEC season

It may have been missed amid the clamour over Lewis Hamilton's seventh F1 title, but Britain had another world champion crowned last weekend. Mike Conway's WEC crown raises an old conundrum - does title glory make up for the pain of Le Mans defeat?

WEC
Nov 19, 2020
The 10 greatest LMP1 races ranked Prime

The 10 greatest LMP1 races ranked

As the LMP1 class prepares to bow out of top-line sportscar racing at the World Endurance Championship season finale in Bahrain this weekend, Motorsport.com looks back over the past two decades to pick out the 10 of its best contests

Endurance
Nov 9, 2020