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28 October  2012

Lotus LMP1 - 6 Hours of Shanghai

Lotus Rebellion Racing closes the 2012 FIA WEC with their 6th win!

- 6th win of the season in FIA Endurance LMP1 Trophy (Spa, Le Mans, Silverstone, Sao Paulo, Fuji and Shanghai)
- 4th place overall at the 6 Hours of Shanghai
- Winner of the 2012 FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP1 Teams

In the last race of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship, Lotus Rebellion Racing secured first place in FIA WEC Endurance LMP1 Trophy at the 6 Hours of Shanghai. Andrea Belicchi, Harold Primat and Cong Fu Cheng, drove their #13 B12/60 Lola-Toyota to 4th place overall.

Starting from seventh place on the grid, the #13 Lola-Toyota was able to overtake both HPD-Hondas with strong driving and smart strategy. At mid-race Belicchi, Primat and Cheng were in a strong 6th place overall (and third in the FIA Endurance LMP1 Trophy). They kept pushing and in the last hour of the race, Andrea Belicchi had a head-to-head battle with David Brabham aboard the JRM car #22. On lap 169, with less than thirty minutes remaining in the race, Andrea Belicchi, after numerous attempts, managed to pass the JRM driver to take fifth place overall (and second place in the in the FIA Endurance LMP1 Trophy behind the Lotus Rebellion Racing team’s sister car, #12).

Cung Fu Cheng was a successful addition to the regular driver pairing in the Lola-Toyota #13, he quickly adapted himself to the car and drove two very strong stints during the race, being both quick and safe.

Starting the race from 5th place on the grid, the sister Lola-Toyota #12 had a nearly perfect race, but Neel Jani and Nicolas Prost were robbed of the victory just 8 minutes before the end of the race. The Swiss/French pairing were dominant from the start of the race, leading the FIA Endurance LMP1 Trophy from the third lap (fourth overall), building a one lap lead over the sister car #13. But unluckily, the car was forced to retire only a few laps from the end with a transmission failure that deprived the two drivers from a deserved win, instead handing the win to Andrea Belicchi, Harrold Primat and Cong Fu Cheng. It was the first time one of Lotus Rebellion Racing’s Lola B12/60 Toyotas has had to retire all season.

Andrea Belicchi – Lola-Toyota #13 :
"I feel mixed emotions. I'm happy for me, for my teammates Harold and Cong Fu and for all the team who have done a great job through the whole season. I'm sad too for the team of the #12 Lola-Toyota and for my friends Neel and Nico. Harold, Cong Fu and I had a very strong race. I won my duel with David Brabham. I had a risky decision to take because there were not a lot of places that I could overtake, but it worked. I would especially like to thank and congratulate Cong Fu. He has been really great during the week-end. He has quickly become part of the team and adapted very well to the car. He drove really strong stints during the race." 

Harold Primat – Lola-Toyota #13 :
"I'm satisfied by our season. All the team has worked hard for the last years to achieve good results and it has paid off especially this season. Of course, we share the disappointment of our teammates in the #12 car, Nico and Neel. They would have deserved the win and to have claimed third place in the FIA WEC drivers classification, but things like that happen sometimes. Anyway, we will celebrate together our victory of today and the success of the season !”

Cung Fu Cheng – Lola-Toyota #13 :
"The challenge of driving the REBELLION Racing Lola-Toyota LMP1 was not so easy. I hadn't driven much before the race and I had not a lot of time to learn and understand the car, but we did it! I'm sorry for Neel and Nico, but happy to have contributed to the success of the team. I really appreciate being able to come and race at REBELLION Racing, there is a great spirit in this team."

Nicolas Prost – Lola-Toyota #12 :
"It was like another perfect race for us until 8 minutes before the end. We made the gap during the race and won the duel against the JRM #22 car. But the gearbox broke just a few laps before the end of the race, preventing the car from being able to move and forcing us to retire. As a consequence, we lost 3rd place in the FIA World Endurance Championship driver classification. We had bad luck in beginning of the season and we are finishing with bad luck. It's a bit sad to finish on this note, but we can be very proud of our results this season."

Neel Jani – Lola-Toyota #12 :
" It's a kind of story that only sport can tell. We were P4 overall and P1 in the LMP1 privateer field. We had just over seven minutes before the end of the race and the car broke. The main consequence of all of this is that we lost the third place in the FIA World Endurance Championship drivers classification. And that's what is the harder thing to take for me. However, we proved once again that we were the fastest LMP1 privateer car this season. And the very good memory of our victory at Petit Le Mans last week is still in our heads. Yes, I am are satisifed by my 2012 season."

Bart Hayden Lotus Rebellion Racing Team Manager :
"This win in Shanghai rounds off what has been a very successful season, 6 wins in the FIA Endurance LMP1 Trophy (Spa-Francorchamps, Le Mans, Silverstone, Sao Paulo, Fuji and Shanghai) including 6 pole positions and not forgetting the overall win at Petit Le Mans, at the finale of the American Le Mans Series.
I feel sorry for Nico (Prost) and Neel (Jani) as they were unable to claim third place in the FIA WEC World Drivers championship. They have been dominant all season and today they were within sight of the just reward that they deserved.
For car #13, they drove really well to get the car up ahead the HPDs and they were there to pick up the win when #12 had to retire. Cong Fu contributed massively to that result, he integrated really well with the team and supported Andrea and Harold, so I’m happy for those guys that they took the win.
We are now heading home and will have, during the next coming weeks, time to try to realise what we have achieved, and some time to spend with our families ... and prepare for next season !
The team has grown and strengthened again this year. We will enjoy the moment and then start looking ahead to the next season"