Rebellion Racing has had a strong start to the 2016 season with the two-car squad finishing third and fourth overall in the first two races.
The races weren’t the beginning. Rebellion first tested Dunlop tyres in 2015. The Bahrain test gave the team the opportunity to test Dunlop tyres on the same track, with similar conditions to the race the previous weekend while using their previous supplier’s tyres.
That starting point showed a similar performance level, without any set-up work or tuning in the tyres, and prompted Rebellion’s team boss Bart Hayden to make the switch to Dunlop for 2016.
Between November and the first race World Endurance Championship race at Silverstone in April, Dunlop designed, simulated and manufactured tyres which were then tested and refined. The process doesn’t end there with Dunlop developing the tyres throughout the season. That is a big contrast to the LMP2 category where the specifications declared at Silverstone are fixed for the full season across all tracks.
Rebellion Racing, along with LMP1 privateer rivals ByKolles, are not the first LMP1 teams to use Dunlop tyres in the current era of the FIA World Endurance Championship which began in 2012. Dunlop worked with Oak Racing on the Pescarolo chassis in that first WEC season. During the LMP1 break Dunlop dominated the LMP2 class with Dunlop’s tyre designers gathering data and experience of the WEC circuits. That information and LMP2 success formed the starting point for the new Dunlop LMP1 tyre range. The Rebellion test programme that followed has been comprehensive, including a four-day Dunlop test at the Aragon circuit in Spain.
Le Mans is a big event for the new partnership. With two overall podium finishes from two races, hopes are raised for a third trophy from the biggest race on the calendar, but both Dunlop and Rebellion recognise that with the current regulations it is a difficult task, needing reliability issues from the more powerful factory teams running hybrid cars. The partnership is working well, the tyres and the tyre/chassis combination continue to improve with each session on track, and with a consistent race with minimal issues, the coveted overall podium finish is not an impossibility.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans, the third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, starts at 15.00 CEST on Saturday 18th June.