Overshadowed by Jackie Chan DC Racing in the early stages of the season, Vaillante Rebellion made a magnificent comeback in the second half and snatched the LMP2 Drivers and Team World Endurance Championship trophies at the end of the year. The nerve-jangling performance would not have been out of place in a Michel Vaillant album, to the point that observers could be forgiven for thinking the team had drawn inspiration from their sponsor.
Undisputed leader of the LMP1 privateers from 2012 to 2016, Rebellion Racing switched to LMP2 for the 2017 season, taking on its sponsor’s name. This year marked the sixtieth anniversary of the Michel Vaillant graphic novel series which features a racing driver. At the 24 Hours of Le Mans, reality surpassed fiction.
The driver line-up was the stuff of dreams: Nelson Piquet Jr, Bruno Senna, Nicolas Prost, Mathias Beche, and two experienced gentlemen drivers, Julien Canal and David Heinemeier Hansson. All the same, Jackie Chan DC Racing (Oliver Jarvis, Thomas Laurent and Ho-pin Tung) streaked ahead, swiping three victories in the first four championship races, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
But triumph switched camp when the championship changed continent. Having taken second at Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps and Nürburgring, Senna, Canal and Prost won the next three rounds in Mexico, Fuji and Shanghai, followed by a third place. They went to the last round as leaders. A fourth win in the finale in the Bahrain desert propelled Senna and Canal champions. Prost, who missed the Nürburgring round, cannot share the title. The second car, the #13 driven by Beche, Piquet Jr and Heinemeier Hansson also had consistently good results in the later stages, celebrating three podiums. A remarkable result given the competition in the LMP2 class this year.
Will Rebellion defend its LMP2 title in the Super Season or will it take its chances against Toyota, SMP Racing and CEFC Manor TRS Racing? We shall know before long!
Photo: Despite technical hitches, Vaillante Rebellion never fell below sixth place in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Pictured: The Oreca driven by Prost, Senna and Canal.