Rebellion Racing’s Gustavo Menezes, Norman Nato and Bruno Senna dominated the proceedings Sunday (Feb. 23) at Circuit of the Americas. The trio combined to lead 156 of the 189 laps en route to winning the Lone Star Le Mans, the fifth round of the 2019-20 FIA World Endurance Championship.
Changes to the WEC’s success handicap system ahead of the COTA weekend slowed the Toyota TS050-Hybrids by a couple of seconds a lap. The move effectively made it impossible to compete with the Rebellion R13. The 33 laps that the No. 1 did not lead were in and around pit stop sequences.
The pace difference was such that Senna was able to pull away by 16 seconds from the No. 8 Toyota of Sebastien Buemi in the first half-hour of the race. The No. 7 Toyota of Jose Maria Lopez was 32 seconds behind at that point.
The vast majority of the race saw Rebellion Racing maintain a lead between 35-50 seconds over the No. 8 Toyota. Outside of the pit stop sequences, Rebellion Racing was never challenged on their way to victory. Menezes more or less summed up the race in his post-race interview.
“We won! We did it!,” Menezes said after the race. “Incredible effort from all the team, from Norman [Nato], Bruno [Senna], and even more from all of our mechanics. Thank you so much to everyone. P1!”
In reality, the scariest moment of the weekend for Rebellion Racing occurred right at the end of Free Practice No. 2 on Saturday when the team blew an engine. The engine was changed in the three hours between practice and qualifying. Menezes and Nato then put the car on pole.