Toyota LMP1 Teams Beaten On-Track for First Time in Two Years at Four Hours of Shanghai

Rebellion Racing becomes the first team to best Toyota Gazoo Racing’s TS050 Hybrid on-track since Porsche’s 2017 departure.

byJames Gilboy| PUBLISHED Nov 10, 2019 7:38 PM
Toyota LMP1 Teams Beaten On-Track for First Time in Two Years at Four Hours of Shanghai

Rebellion Racing has won the FIA World Endurance Championship's 2019 Four Hours of Shanghai, and in doing so has become the first team to beat Toyota's indomitable LMP1 team on-track since 2017.

Bruno Senna, Gustavo Menezes, and Norman Nato drove their Rebellion R13 to an overall victory more than a minute ahead of the next-closest LMP1 machine, the Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 Hybrid driven by Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Kazuki Nakajima. Despite Rebellion's considerable lead over Toyota at the checkered flag, and controversies over Toyota's "success ballast," Rebellion's driver Bruno Senna explained that he and teammates Gustavo Menezes and Norman Nato had to race flat-out for four straight hours to keep the Toyotas behind.

"It might have looked easy from the outside, but we were pushing 100 percent all the time," the Brazilian told Autoweek. "There was no tire saving or fuel saving, because the target was to build a gap in case something happened."

Rebellion's triumph marks the first time since Porsche's victory at the 2017 Six Hours of Circuit of the Americas that any team has taken an overall win from Toyota with pure race pace. The Swiss outfit isn't unfamiliar with standing atop the podium, which it did after the 2018 6 Hours of Silverstone, but only after excessive floor wear disqualified both Toyotas, which outpaced Rebellion that day.

Shanghai also marks the first race win for a non-hybrid LMP1 car since the 2012 12 Hours of Sebring, when the Audi R18 TDI won overall against hybrid competition. If Toyota's self-inflicted "success ballast" doesn't again hold it back during the five remaining races this season, Rebellion's victory may yet mark the last win for a non-hybrid car before the FIA introduces its hypercar-like LMP1 ruleset next season.