G-DRIVE RACING OPENS FIA WEC CAMPAIGN WITH PODIUM FINISH AT SILVERSTONE
18th April 2016
G-Drive Racing opened its account for the new FIA World Endurance Championship season with a hard-earned podium finish in the 6 Hours of Silverstone on Sunday.
Displaying impressive pace all weekend with the team’s new Nissan-powered ORECA 05, Roman Rusinov, Nathanael Berthon and Rene Rast overcame some technical misfortune and contact with a GT car during the race to seal third place in an extremely competitive LMP2 field.
After the combined efforts of Rusinov and Rast secured class pole position in Saturday’s qualifying session, Rusinov took the wheel for the start, settling into a strong second place in the early stages of the race and grabbing the lead at the start of the second stint.
Rast then took over at the 90-minute mark, becoming embroiled in a fierce three-way battle with the #43 RGR Sport by Morand Ligier and the #42 Strakka Racing Gibson, the trio at one stage together on the track and running nose-to-tail.
Rast however lost precious time stopping on the circuit with a technical problem towards the end of the third hour, dropping to third before passing the Ligier of Bruno Senna in a sensational overtaking move at Stowe Corner to retake second.
However, the #43 car was able to get back ahead in the next stint as former single-seater star Berthon took over from Rast for only his second start in the WEC and his first since 2014.
The Frenchman slipped to third in the fifth hour behind the #31 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier, and lost another when the G-Drive pit crew was forced to change the #26 car’s front bodywork due to contact by an errant LMGTE driver.
But a sensational double stint from Rast in the closing stages saw the G-Drive Racing team recover from this setback and close down the #36 Signatech Alpine to wrest back third position, the German closing down a 20 second gap in the space of 25 minutes and sweeping past at Abbey corner to claim the podium position.
Unfortunately, time ran out for Rast to catch the #31 Ligier, G-Drive missing out on the runner-up spot by just nine seconds. Still, with a point for pole position and 15 for third place it was a solid base for the team to begin its 2016 campaign.
G-Drive Racing’s 2016 programme sees the ORECA 05-Nissan entered in the full FIA WEC and a Gibson-Nissan in the full ELMS. Both cars, which are operationally run by the JOTA Sport organisation, will race at the Le Mans 24 Hours in June.
The next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship takes place at the legendary Spa circuit in Belgium on May 7.
Roman Rusinov, Driver #36 G-Drive ORECA 05-Nissan
“I knew from the start I had to manage the tyres, so I didn’t take any risks. The balance of the car was great and I was able to get in to the lead before handing over to Rene.
“The G-Drive Racing team did a really good job this weekend. We got some useful points, so I think we have a lot to look forward to this season.”
Rene Rast, Driver #36 G-Drive ORECA 05-Nissan
“I had to stop on the track when the engine shutdown and I couldn’t actually talk to the team because they were counting down to the green flag! We lost about 30-seconds there which was a shame. But on the whole I was happy with the pace and I had fun. It was the first time for the team with the car and we made some big steps from the test. We’ll keep improving and I am sure we will be really strong at Spa.”
Nathanael Berthon, Driver #36 G-Drive ORECA 05-Nissan
“To be honest there is some disappointment after the contact with the GT car. It was an Aston Martin and it was at the beginning of the first stint, the traffic was terrible out there at that stage. I did my best but I know there is much more to come from me. The team did a really nice job since the Prologue test and I think at Spa we can really challenge for the win.”
Gary Holland, Team Manager, Driver #36 G-Drive ORECA 05-Nissan
“We are a bit disappointed with third place which is a good measure of our expectation as a team. But its race one and it is a long season and the 16 points are a solid start so actually we shouldn’t be too disappointed. All three drivers performed brilliantly under the circumstances and I’m proud of the team.”