G-Drive Racing denied WEC victory by brake failure in Mexico
5th September 2016
G-Drive Racing lost out on victory with a braking problem in the final hour of the 6 Hours of Mexico on Saturday.
The #26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 05-Nissan driven by Rene Rast, Alex Brundle and Roman Rusinov had a comfortable lead of more than 40 seconds with 35 minutes remaining when the right-front brake failed at turn five. The problem required a spell in the garage to make repairs and relegated the team to an unrepresentative eighth place finish on a day that had promised so much more.
After teaming up with Rusinov to qualify fourth, Rast took the start and quickly moved past the #42 Strakka Racing Gibson and #36 Signatech-Alpine to hold second position in the opening stint.
Rast was one of only two drivers in the race to lap inside the 1m36s barrier and had closed to within a few seconds of the pole-sitting #43 RGR Sport by Morand Ligier when the race was interrupted by the day’s first full-course yellow period.
Slick pitwork by the Jota Sport-crewed G-Drive team meant Rusinov inherited the lead once the race returned to green. The Russian lapped consistently thereafter keep the RGR Ligier at bay for the duration of his fist stint, surviving contact with event promoter Ricardo Gonzalez on his in-lap before completing a second short stint and handing over to Brundle.
The next full-course yellow effectively handed Signatech a free pitstop and meant Brundle was demoted to second for his stint, however the long-awaited onset of rain brought the race firmly back into G-Drive Racing’s hands with two and a half hours remaining.
A perfectly-timed switch to the Dunlop intermediates helped Rast to build a lead of 22 seconds in the deteriorating conditions, before extending it still further after judging that the circuit had tried sufficiently for a return to slicks.
However, the spoils of victory were to desert G-Drive Racing with 25 minutes to go and despite managing to make the finish, they also lost third in the points standings to the #31 ESM Ligier. Rast and Rusinov currently sit fourth on 71 points, 59 off the lead with four rounds remaining.
G-Drive Racing will hope for better luck in two weeks’ time when they head to Austin, Texas, for the second leg of the FIA WEC’s American tour, the 6 hours of Circuit of the Americas (September 15-17).
“I have experienced the problem in a Lamborgini in 2008, then in 2012 and in 2014 I had similar issues so we really need to change something (with the brakes) because I have had these issues with Brembo (brake supplier) before.
It is really disappointing and hard to take because we all did a great job up until that point and was in full control of the race. We have a fast car but with a lot of reliability issues with third party parts this season. We will investigate exactly why the problem happened with the direct supplier. I believe we will fight back in Texas.”
“We had a perfect strategy, the team did everything right, made the right calls at the right moments, we weren’t as dominant as the races before, but we were leading the race by 40 seconds which was nice. The car was good to drive and we deserved better. We took a look at the brakes, the left one looks perfect the right one just broke even though they were running the same temperatures, so it wasn’t our problem it was simply a material failure.”
“Up until the last hour we were in control and deservedly so after a brilliant job by the team from a strategy and pit work point of view. I really feel for the guys in the team as they work so hard.
“It is only my second race with the team but I am really happy with the performances we have delivered so far. The results will come and these frustrations will just make us more determined to make sure they do as soon as possible and we will be very hungry to do that at COTA.
Sam Hignett, Partner – JOTA Sport
“I hate using the words ‘bad luck’ but this is getting ridiculous, [the car suffered] a complete disc failure, but on a positive we didn’t have the best car and yet we still managed the strategy and a great effort from the drivers to be 40 seconds up the road and in control of the race. The team were fantastic all weekend and another freak breakage on a part has cost us maximum points.”