Dramatic victory for G-Drive Racing in Japan
17th October 2016
G-Drive Racing claimed a dramatic first win of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship season in a nail-biting Six Hours of Fuji on Sunday (October 16).
A gutsy move for the lead by Will Stevens with just five minutes of the race remaining secured victory for himself and co-drivers Roman Rusinov and Alex Brundle in their #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 05-Nissan at Fuji Speedway in Japan.
Stevens returned to the G-Drive Racing squad for the first time since finishing second at June’s Le Mans 24 Hours, combining with Roman Rusinov to secure pole position in the LMP2 category on Saturday – the fifth for the team from seven races this year.
He then built a 10-second lead during his opening stint; an advantage that was increased to over half a minute by Rusniov and Brundle. But as the various strategies played out, Stevens found himself right behind Bruno Senna’s #43 car with half an hour remaining and darkness descending.
Stevens closed in on his rival and brilliantly retook the lead with 25 minutes remaining, resisting an aggressive effort by his rival to push him towards the pit wall. Despite the circumstances, Stevens was instructed to reverse the positions shortly afterwards by Race Control.
After biding his time for a few laps, Stevens attacked again made an equally gutsy move around the outside of Senna on the run to Turn One with just five minutes left to secure a dramatic and richly merited victory.
The win was the first in the FIA WEC for JOTA Sport – who run the G-Drive Racing machine operationally – and helped them maintain third place in the teams’ championship.
Rusinov holds third place in the drivers’ standings while Stevens and Brundle climbed to sixth and 11th places respectively, despite both having only sporadically in the WEC in 2016.
Two rounds of the WEC remain with the next, the Six Hours of Shanghai, taking place on 6 November in China.
Fuji was Jota Sport’s fourth WEC win as they enjoyed victories at Spa in 2012 and 2014 as well as Le Mans the same year.
G-Drive Racing, however, will be back in action next weekend (23 October) as they take their Gibson 015S-Nissan to Estoril, Portugal, for the final round of the European Le Mans Series, at which Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Giedo van der Garde aim to become champions.
“Pole position was great and we were really happy with this. Will did an incredible job in qualifying. He was on a different planet.
“We did some good overtakes and even the one we got penalised for we have to respect the stewards decision I guess. But it didn’t matter too much in the end. We had strong opposition but we came through and we will really appreciate this victory because we fought for it.”
“The original move (on Senna) was exciting from the car so I hope it was as exciting from the outside too. The last stint was tough with traffic and we knew it would be extremely close with Bruno coming out of the pits
“If there is a gap I will always go for it. I would have appreciated a tiny bit more room! I don’t know how far away I was but for sure I was as close as I would want to ever get.
“Overall I am really happy for the team. They should have won a lot of races this year, so I feel honoured that the win has come when I am here. Big thanks to G-Drive Racing as they did a very good job all weekend.”
“There was a little bit of a gap for me to chase to the Alpine because we were on different synchs strategy wise but we knew it would be crucial to get ahead of them for the final stint which we did.
“Will did a fantastic job in the final stint and hold the lead from Senna at the end. This was a great team victory and I am so happy for them as they have been denied cruelly a few times this year. It is so well deserved.”
David Clark, Jota Sport Director
“It was a very accomplished performance from the team and the drivers this weekend. From start to finish they operated marvellously and the success was hard-fought and really deserved.
“If anyone is any doubt about how exciting endurance racing can be then they need to watch this race. The tension in the final thirty minutes was extraordinary. We came out on top and it is a real testament to the hard work and skill of all our team members.”
Gary Holland, Team Manager
“We were confident coming in to the race because we proved to be quick from the very start. Will brought a different dynamic to the team this weekend and it all worked quite seamlessly for us which was nice.
“All the drivers were all really ‘on it’ this weekend and did great jobs. I think it would be amiss also not to praise Rene (Rast) who could not be with us this weekend. He has brought so much to the set-up and overall performance of the car this season.”
Race Result & Points
LMP2 Race Result – Fuji International Speedway
1 Rusinov/Stevens/Brundle G-Drive Racing ORECA 05-Nissan
2 Senna/Albuquerque/Gonzalez RGR Sport by Morand Ligier JS P2-Nissan
3 Lapierre/Menezes/Richelmi Signatech Alpine A460-Nissan
4 Giovinazzi/Gelael/van der Garde Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P2-Nissan
5 Derani/Dalziel/Cumming Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier JS P2-Nissan
6 Kane/Williamson Strakka Racing Gibson 015S-Nissan
2016 FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Teams – After seven rounds
1 Signatech Alpine 171
2 RGR Sport by Morand 136
3 G-Drive Racing 114
4 Extreme Speed Motorsports 94
5 SMP Racing 59
6 Strakka Racing 66
2016 FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers – After seven rounds
1 Menezes/Lapierre/Richelmi 171
2 Senna/Albuquerque/Gonzalez 133
3 Rusinov 112
4 Cumming/Derani/Dalziel 94
5 Rast 86
6 Stevens 67
11 Brundle 48