Webb likely to stay at ByKolles despite "pretty poor" year

Oliver Webb says he is likely to stick with the ByKolles team for the 2017 FIA WEC season despite what he describes as a “pretty poor” 2016 campaign for the Austrian-licenced outfit.

Webb likely to stay at ByKolles despite "pretty poor" year
#4 ByKolles Racing CLM P1/01: Simon Trummer, Oliver Webb, Pierre Kaffer
Podium: winners LMP1 private #4 ByKolles Racing CLM P1/01: Simon Trummer, Oliver Webb, Pierre Kaffer
#4 ByKolles Racing CLM P1/01: Simon Trummer, Oliver Webb, Pierre Kaffer
#4 ByKolles Racing CLM P1/01: Simon Trummer, Oliver Webb, Pierre Kaffer
#4 ByKolles Racing CLM P1/01: Oliver Webb
#4 ByKolles Racing CLM P1/01: Simon Trummer, Oliver Webb, Pierre Kaffer
#4 ByKolles Racing CLM P1/01: Simon Trummer, Oliver Webb, Pierre Kaffer
#4 ByKolles Racing CLM P1/01: Simon Trummer, Oliver Webb, Pierre Kaffer
#13 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R-One AER: Matheo Tuscher, Dominik Kraihamer, Alexandre Imperatori
Oliver Webb, ByKolles Racing
#13 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R-One AER: Matheo Tuscher, Dominik Kraihamer, Alexandre Imperatori

Sharing the ByKolles CLM P1/01 with Simon Trummer and Pierre Kaffer, Webb took a single LMP1 privateer class win all season at Shanghai in a season blighted by numerous reliability issues, especially in relation to the car's AER powerplant.

On pure pace, the car was no match for its sole class rival Rebellion Racing, which romped to the title despite dropping down from two cars to one mid-season, a move which left ByKolles with only one car to race against.

Asked to sum up his season, Webb told Motorsport.com: "Pretty poor, unfortunately. The Rebellions were essentially in a different category because they were so much quicker.

"The chassis itself was working really well but the engine issues we had were the downfall, really. To have an issue at every single race bar two was hard for the team and cast a negative light on them.

"The actual driving of the car was very enjoyable when it was going well. I had two very good teammates, so the main thing was to show myself [to be strong] against those guys."

Having spent the previous two seasons in LMP2 – and taking the European Le Mans Series title with Signatech in 2014 – Webb said spiralling budgets in the secondary category prevented a return.

He said the option of joining ByKolles in a sparsely populated LMP1-L category was preferable to exiting WEC altogether, and is holding out for a class revival in 2018 - when new rules designed to narrow the gap between privateer and factory LMP1 cars come into effect.

"I enjoyed racing in LMP2 and that was where I was aiming to be this year," he continued. "But now even the silver drivers can't cover the budgets any more. It's getting silly.

"You've got big budgets coming from GP2, and even gold drivers willing to pay half of what they paid in GP2, which is twice what we used to pay in LMP2. It's impossible now to get free or partly-funded seats from the silver drivers, which is always how I used to do it.

"I didn't want to go and race in a different series, so I carried on with WEC in what is supposed to be the top class and tried to show what I could do.

"It's more of a longer aim now, we'll probably carry on in LMP1-L [next year] even though it's just going to be ByKolles in it, but the year after there's potentially going to be five or six cars."

Rebellion exit no surprise

Webb also said that it was little surprise that LMP1-L stalwart Rebellion decided to drop down to LMP2 for 2017, and that no other teams decided to join the category.

"It was the disappointment of the year, but I saw it coming because the new Oreca [07] is very similar to their current car," explained Webb.

"We wanted to have at least have more cars in the category then there are steps on the podium, but we can't blame the teams for that.

"It takes so much preparation – you can't just call up Oreca, order a car and go racing next week like you can in LMP2. You're effectively a mini-F1 team.

"I don't think they've left the LMP1 category for good, maybe they will come back the year after when the category is full again."

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