Rebellion Racing’s upcoming farewell to endurance racing will remove one of the heartiest FIA World Endurance championship teams from the paddock at the conclusion of June’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Rebellion name, however, is not expected to leave the world of racing as the Swiss watch company shifts its strategies in the sport for 2021 and beyond.
“You can imagine having the budget for our own racing team in LMP1 is very high,” Rebellion VP Calim Bouhadra told RACER. “The fact that we decided to stop will allow us to continue to develop the timepieces, and right now, we’re focusing on bringing the brand more to motorsports. We have a lot of relationships as timekeepers for Dakar, ELMS, and other series. So we are in a position to be the timekeeper brand for more series because our knowledge in motor sport is not easy to compare to other brands.”
Beyond winding down the company’s WEC program, Rebellion’s exit from the paddock brings significant change to the 2022 Hypercar plans announced last year between the team and French auto giant Peugeot on December 4. Although Bouhadra wouldn’t be drawn on the primary reason for the split with Peugeot, the union, which lasted a little more than two months, quickly ended with the news of Rebellion’s pending WEC departure.
A small part of the decision, Bouhadra says, stems from abandoning the spirit behind the brand’s name.
“For sure, it’s not one factor to the decision,” he acknowledged. “One of them could be our independence, but in parallel, the opportunity to join Peugeot was very positive, because we brought legitimacy to Peugeot to rebel and think outside the box, and to us, Peugeot brought championships and a strong factory organization. I would say the plan with Peugeot for me was not a problem; there was good synergy. But we felt in our hearts we would not rebel as before.”
“The decision was obviously very difficult for the owner (Alexandre Pesci) and me to take. Thirteen years competing in endurance, we are definitely a face of racing today. We started with conversation with Peugeot and liked the future of endurance racing, but after a few weeks of reflection with Alex, the owner, we decided it was time to stop. After 13 years, it was a very strong investment. We are still a privateer, and after we realized with the new regulations, and the new championships coming in the next years, we see that Rebellion won’t be a privateer anymore.
“So finally, we decided to say it’s better to stop now while we’re Rebellion, we’re independent, and we can leave the championship, than this status, than be with Peugeot and not be a privateer. We found it very simple and convenient for us to not go in this new Hypercar championship. Everything has to stop one day, and it’s too bad, but it’s time to say goodbye.”
Having taken an overall WEC race win for the first time late last year, Bouhadra dreams of bidding farewell to the series with a win on the sport’s biggest stage.
“For us, I’m focusing on getting to the end of the WEC championship with the race team, because the next four races, we can do something strong,” he said. “My dream is when the final flag waves at Le Mans, to be on the first place at the podium. It would be a crazy and insane story. This is definitely our priority today.”