Rebellion team manager Bart Hayden (RIGHT) and ORECA Group president Hugues de Chaunac (ACO photo)
Wholesale changes to the P1 category for 2014 have spawned a significant growth in new chassis production, including the ORECA-built R-One chassis commissioned by Rebellion Racing.
The leading privateer P1 team has distinguished itself while performing in-house development with the Lola B12/60s, and with its alliance with French constructor ORECA, the Swiss operation will step up from the ranks of customer-car entrants to fielding its own bespoke chassis solution.
As Rebellion team manager Bart Hayden told RACER in a project update, the Toyota-powered R-One coupe will be among the last P1 cars to break cover before the 2014 WEC championship begins, pushing its on-track development into the early rounds.
“The schedule for the first car rollout is not until the middle of March next year, so at the moment the project is on schedule, but there's not a lot of physical elements that you can actually touch and feel,” he said. “It's mainly in the design stage and going out to tender with very various suppliers or component parts, etc. So the most physical aspect is the engine because it's going to be an evolution of the engine we have currently and things like the gearboxes is like to be an evolutionary design from major suppliers already.
“So there are bits and pieces that are there but the overall car won't really start coming together until end in the new year which is tight, we all know, for the start of the season. But we're really compressing what should really be a 15 month program into 12 months.”
With Porsche's new P1 car currently testing, Audi's 2014 challenger set to run within a matter of days and Toyota's successor to the TS030 scheduled for a January debut, Hayden's team will have a lot of work to do in order to have the R-One ready for the WEC season opener which, based on this year's championship, could start shortly after the car turns its first lap.
“We're all slightly up against it,” he explained. “We'd like to be at the first of the WEC round but we don't know when will that will be. But we think that'll be sometime in the middle of April. We also understand that there's going to be what they call a collective test at the end of March, which will be considered mandatory unless force majeure applies for each entrant. We want to be on the grid for the first race, for sure, with the new car and then we probably won't be doing a huge amount of testing prior to getting there. But we don't want to shy away from the first race because I think you do uncover things when you go racing that you don't uncover when you go testing, no matter how hard you test.
“So if the project delivers and the car rolls out in the middle of March and there's a mandate to be testing the end of March, it doesn't give us much room for being late. But we're firmly targeting being ready for the first race because I think those first races will really be an opportunity to thoroughly test the car and to see how the new regulations are going to be applied and to get used to the new way of racing. If we just pitched up for Le Mans, we won't be ready. So we should consider those early races to be preparation for Le Mans and I think that's how we will approach it. I think in many ways that's the way a lot of teams in the WEC approach the early races in whatever every year we're competing, especially, if you look at Audi and Toyota and how they go about things.”