CHARGING PERFORMANCE AT RED BULL RING FOR CHAMPIONSHIP LEADERS
18th July 2016
G-Drive Racing maintained their championship-leading position in the European Le Mans Series as they twice charged back from misfortune to secure a podium finish at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on Sunday (Jul 17).
The #38 Gibson 015S-Nissan, crewed by Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Giedo van der Garde, started and finished third in a dramatic four-hour race in which fortunes changed throughout.
Van der Garde started the car, which had been qualified an excellent third by Tincknell, but was just two laps into the race when he was forced into the pits after suffering a slow left-front puncture.
The lost time dropped him to 16th place, but the Dutchman carved his way through the field and set the race’s fastest lap to make it up to seventh by the end of his stint.
Dolan, who took over the car from van der Garde after an hour, continued the charge as the Briton reached fourth spot during his 90-minute double stint.
Tincknell climbed in with 80 minutes remaining, re-joining the circuit more than half a minute away from a podium position. It took him just 30 minutes to move up to third and another three to climb a further spot.
The Briton exited the pits after his final scheduled fuel stop with 45 minutes remaining, but his hopes of chasing down victory were ended just one corner later when a slow backmarker made a mistake and spun into Tincknell while being lapped.
The damage to the Gibson-Nissan meant another unscheduled trip to the pits to have a section of front bodywork replaced. But some sensational work from the G-Drive team, which is run operationally by JOTA Sport, got Tincknell back on-track with a loss of only one position.
The third-place finish ensured that G-Drive Racing maintained their 100 per cent record of podium finishes in the ELMS in 2016 – adding to their victory at Silverstone and second place at Imola.
The team maintained the lead of the LMP2 Teams’ Championship; seven points clear of their nearest rival. Dolan, Ticknell and van der Garde remain on top of the Drivers’ Championship; the trio ahead by the same number of points.
G-Drive Racing are in action next weekend (July 22-24) at the latest round of the FIA World Endurance Championship at the Nurburgring in Germany. The next ELMS round is at Circuit Paul Ricard in France on August 26-28
“It’s very frustrating to have a race like this, but I think everyone in the team, from the drivers to the pit crew, have done an absolutely terrific job in the circumstances, especially as the Gibson isn’t the quickest of the LMP2 chassis any more.
We had a puncture early on, recovered extremely well to second place and then Harry’s had such terrible luck with a backmarker making the mistake just when he was alongside and hitting him.
The crew in the pits did an amazing job of minimising the time loss in the pits and we’ve managed to still take some good points as a result. I believe that bad luck evens itself out over the year, so I hope our bad luck is done for 2016.”
Giedo van der Garde:
“We looked very strong all weekend and Harry did a good job in qualifying to place P3. The start was great and I was immediately in to P2 and had a battle with (Tristan) Gommendy. We swapped places and then I was about to get him back as we went to turn three, but he just kept coming right, not giving me any room and he touched me quite hard. This seemed to give me a lot of understeer on right-hand corners and the pace dropped away. Soon we found we had a puncture on the left front and we had to change the wheel.
“After that I went flat-out and made good progress and we were the quickest. Simon and then Harry did really good double stints and then we had the issue with the guy who spun in front of him.
“P3 wasn’t the result we were looking for because the speed we had for sure have fought for the win, but it just wasn’t our lucky day but the good news is we are still leading the championship.”
“My stint was good and I was able to catch and pass Colletti and de Brujn from quite far back with two nice moves on the brakes into T2. Then on the second stint I exited the pits behind the Pegasus car.
He went a bit wide into T2 and I took the normal line to overtake. Then suddenly he spun the wheels on the exit and came right across the front of me and I had nowhere to go and hit him head on. It broke the front left fender and damaged the splitter so I had to pit for repairs and dropped back down to P3.
“Third place was good also considering the puncture early on for Giedo. The team did an excellent job to recalculate strategy and were fantastic in the pit stops.”
David Clark, Partner – JOTA Sport
“It was a very impressive performance by the team after two hits of bad luck out there today. To come back, first from the puncture, and then the incident with the back marker was a huge achievement. We were the quickest car on track at several stages of the race and came away with fastest lap too which is very satisfying. All three drivers were terrific today.
“More good and hard-earned points for the title quest mean we go to the next race at Paul Ricard with more confidence that we can beat the opposition, which let us not forget have much newer packages.”
Race Results & Points
LMP2/overall Race Result – Red Bull Ring
1 Thiriet/Beche/Hirakawa Thiriet by TDS ORECA 05-Nissan
2 Gommendy/Junjin/de Pruijn Eurasia Motorsport ORECA 05-Nissan
3 Dolan/Tincknell/van der Garde G-Drive Racing Gibson 015S-Nissan
4 Coletti/Leal/Wirth SMP Racing BR01-Nissan
5 Munemann/Pizzitola/Hirschi Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JS P2-Nissan
6 Rojas/Canal/Berthon Greaves Motorsport Ligier JS P2-Nissan
2016 European Le Mans Series for LMP2 drivers
1 Tincknell/Dolan/Van der Garde 58
2 Thiriet/Hirakawa/Beche 51
3 Leal/Coletti 42
4 Gommendy/de Bruijn/Junjin 28
5 Wirth 24
6 Johnsson 22
European Le Mans Series LMP2 Teams’ Championship
1 G-Drive Racing 58
2 Thiriet by TDS Racing 51
3 SMP Racing 42
4 Eurasia Motorsport 28
5 Krohn Racing 22
6 Dragonspeed 16