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
Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked Prime

Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked

Toyota scored its fourth Le Mans 24 Hours victory and a 1-2, with the #7 car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez beating the #8. But although it looked straightforward from the outside, Toyota faced serious problem that had to be solved with some quick-thinking and ingenuity.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far Prime

What we've learned from the Le Mans 24 Hours so far

The new dawn for the FIA World Endurance Championship has arrived at Le Mans, as Hypercars prepare to duel for victory in the world's oldest endurance race. Motorsport.com picks out the 10 things we have learned in the build up to the race.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021
Le Mans 2021: The team-by-team guide Prime

Le Mans 2021: The team-by-team guide

After a two-month delay due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours is set to get underway with the start of the Hypercar era at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2021
Can Toyota's #7 crew break its Le Mans curse? Prime

Can Toyota's #7 crew break its Le Mans curse?

One Toyota, normally with the number 7 on the side, always seems to attract the bad luck in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez are hoping for a change in fortune this time around, but face significantly more unknowns than in recent years

Le Mans
Aug 19, 2021
Why Glickenhaus should be taken seriously on its Le Mans bow Prime

Why Glickenhaus should be taken seriously on its Le Mans bow

Many were quick to dismiss Glickenhaus when the boutique American sportscar firm's entry into the top class of the Le Mans 24 Hours was announced. It's all-new LMH racer, powered by an engine built by a rally specialist, goes in as the underdog against Toyota but the mathematical odds suggest that it has more than just a faint hope of success.

Le Mans
Aug 18, 2021
How 1971's benchmark Le Mans team lost with the best car Prime

How 1971's benchmark Le Mans team lost with the best car

The JW Automotive Engineering team won twice at the Le Mans 24 Hours with ageing Fords and was considered the heavy favourite to add more victories to its tally after partnering with Porsche. But despite being armed with the all-conquering 917, this formidable combination was never as successful in real life as on the big screen.

Le Mans
Aug 15, 2021
Why Jose Maria Lopez isn’t motivated by emulating Fangio Prime

Why Jose Maria Lopez isn’t motivated by emulating Fangio

Having twice missed out on Formula 1 and reinvented himself as a touring car driver, Jose Maria Lopez has had a rocky ride to becoming a four-time world champion. One more would put him level with his nation's favourite son, but there's another prize he would value far more than the honour of matching Juan Manuel Fangio's tally.

WEC
Aug 14, 2021
The understated Le Mans legend who has earned a testimonial Prime

The understated Le Mans legend who has earned a testimonial

OPINION: After 24 Le Mans 24 Hours participations, 50-year-old Emmanuel Collard will be absent from the grid this year, stuck at the mercy of his gold driver grading. But, while he's not motivated by breaking start records, the French veteran is determined to return to the field next year.

WEC
Jul 24, 2021