Privateer LMP1s “cannot dream” of racing Toyota

Drivers from leading privateer LMP1 teams have ruled out taking the fight to Toyota in Saturday’s FIA World Endurance Championship opener at Spa.

Privateer LMP1s “cannot dream” of racing Toyota
#1 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R-13: Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani, Bruno Senna
Pole sitters #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Fernando Alonso
#17 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1: Stéphane Sarrazin
#1 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R-13: Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani, Bruno Senna
#4 ByKolles Racing Team Enso CLM P1/01: Oliver Webb, Dominik Kraihamer, Tom Dillmann
#17 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1: Stéphane Sarrazin, Egor Orudzhev, Matevos Isaakyan
#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez, Kamui Kobayashi
#17 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1: Stéphane Sarrazin, Egor Orudzhev, Matevos Isaakyan
#10 Dragonspeed BR Engineering BR1: Henrik Hedman, Ben Hanley, Pietro Fittipaldi

Toyota locked out the front row with its pair of TS050 Hybrids, the quickest of which was 1.842s up on the best non-hybrid car, the #1 Rebellion R-13.

Stephane Sarrazin, whose #17 SMP Racing entry failed to set a time after stopping on circuit with an engine systems issue, said fighting the Toyotas would be impossible.

We are in another world,” said Sarrazin. “We are a private team so we fight with [the other] private cars. We cannot dream. The target is to be same level as Rebellion.”

Sarrazin confirmed SMP’s two AER-powered BR Engineering BR1s are running in low downforce trim, with the primary goal of preparing for next month’s Le Mans 24 Hours.

“We have good balance but sliding a bit too much, understeer,” he said. “You hope for a result, but we know there’s not enough grip.”

Rebellion driver Neel Jani said that while the qualifying gap to Toyota was not accurate due to the session being disrupted by two red flags, the race pace difference remains substantial.

He estimated that the deficit between Rebellion and the Toyotas would be more than a second per lap.

“We haven’t brought everything together what we need,” Jani said. “Our gap is for sure bigger than a second on an average lap, which makes it difficult.

“Qualifying was not representative for anyone. Toyota could have gone quicker without the red flags, and we could have gone a little bit quicker. It was not clean for anyone.

“But the formation is correct – Toyota, us and the rest, that is clear. Third is the new first!”

ByKolles qualified sixth with its ENSO CLM P1/01-Nissan, behind the best of the SMP Racing cars, and Oliver Webb said the goal would be to challenge Rebellion rather than Toyota.

“We’re off the Rebellions, but the SMP we were only one tenth off them [in terms of best laptimes],” said Webb. “We’ve got a second to the Rebellion cars.

“I’d like to think we can challenge Rebellion on old tyres rather than new ones, but I still think they have a bit of an edge out of all the privateers.”

Webb added the privateers are capped at 17-lap stints during Saturday’s race, while the Toyotas are expected to run 19 laps between pitstops.

“That is the rule,” he said. “We [all the privateers] will be very obviously pitting [together] and that will make it really exciting in the pitlane!”

The Spa race is likely to feature just seven LMP1 cars, following the withdrawal of both Manor-run Ginettas due to financial issues and DragonSpeed driver Pietro Fittipaldi’s high-speed crash in qualifying.

Fittipaldi sustained suspected fractures in both legs and the DragonSpeed BR1 chassis is believed to be too damaged to race, with no spare tub available.

shares
comments
Fittipaldi suffers suspected leg fractures in Spa WEC crash

Previous article

Fittipaldi suffers suspected leg fractures in Spa WEC crash

Next article

Fittipaldi undergoes surgery after Spa WEC crash

Fittipaldi undergoes surgery after Spa WEC crash
Load comments
Charting 100 world championship sportscar starts for Toyota Prime

Charting 100 world championship sportscar starts for Toyota

This weekend's Portimao 8 Hours round of the FIA World Endurance Championship marks the 100th world champion prototype start for Toyota. Here are the major milestones on the road to three figures since the earliest low-key days of its entry into the Group C arena nearly 40 years ago.

WEC
21h
The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing Prime

The philosophical problems the WEC's new Hypercar class is already facing

Most of the column inches after the World Endurance Championship's opener were centred around the relative pace of the Hypercar class and the LMP2s, but there's another question that needs addressing in order for the new division to have a successful future

WEC
May 7, 2021
How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era Prime

How stumbling Toyota drew first blood in the WEC's new era

Amid concerns that the new Hypercar class would be upstaged on debut by the spec LMP2 machines at Spa, Toyota delivered the pole and victory that the vast majority of observers expected. But neither car had a clean run, which gave the grandfathered Alpine LMP1 an unexpected shot at glory.

WEC
May 4, 2021
What to expect from sportscar racing's bold new Hypercar era Prime

What to expect from sportscar racing's bold new Hypercar era

A slim field of three cars will be entered in the Hypercar class for the first round of the World Endurance Championship's post-LMP1 age. But there are plenty of reasons for optimism with the new wave of manufacturer entries and competing class philosophies just around the corner

WEC
Apr 29, 2021
How Aston Martin scaled new heights in the Prodrive era Prime

How Aston Martin scaled new heights in the Prodrive era

The 2021 FIA World Endurance Championship kicks off at Spa this weekend, but for the first time since its 2012 inception there will be no factory-run Aston Martins in the GTE Pro class. That's especially notable because as a works entity, the Prodrive era of Aston Martin Racing that began in 2005 has been a success from the very start.

WEC
Apr 27, 2021
How 'Brilliant' Bob Wollek lived up to his nickname Prime

How 'Brilliant' Bob Wollek lived up to his nickname

Sportscar racing lost one of it's greatest talents 20 years ago today when Bob Wollek was knocked from his bicycle prior to the Sebring 12 Hours. The enigmatic Frenchman never won the Le Mans 24 Hours, but many still remember today why 'Brilliant Bob' became a legend

WEC
Mar 16, 2021
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