G-DRIVE RACING ROUND UP A PODIUM FINISH IN SCORCHING AUSTIN
20th September 2016
G-Drive Racing secured a well-deserved podium finish at the sixth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in the USA to keep their title hopes alive.
The #26 ORECA 05-Nissan, driven by Alex Brundle, Rene Rast and Roman Rusinov, started from the back of the field at the Six Hours of the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, but staged a superb recovery to finish third in the LMP2 class and 10th overall.
It was the third podium of the 2016 season for the car that is operationally run by the JOTA Sport organisation and moved G-Drive Racing up to third in the championship points with three races remaining.
Brundle, whose qualifying efforts had been disallowed for exceeding track limits, began the race from the back of the field. But the Briton wasted no time in slicing his way through the order.
Within five minutes he’d climbed 13 places, and by the end of his stint he’d made further gains to lie fifth in LMP2 and 13th overall.
Rast continued the orange ORECA’s progress after taking over driving duties and swiftly dispatched several key championship rivals. The rapid German got to within just 10-seconds of the leader at one stage. However, ultimately the G-Drive Racing team were able to only take advantage of two Full Course Yellow periods in the race as they were forced to run a different pit stop sequence compared to their rivals.
Rast handed the car over to Rusinov in a podium position and the Russian consolidated the position before a close fight ensued during the second half of the race for the runner-up spot. Rast trailed Filipe Albuquerque in the rival #43 Ligier by 30 seconds as he climbed aboard for his final stint with 90 minutes left.
A storming stint by Rast got him to within six seconds of his Portuguese rival, but with slower traffic and full-course yellows working against him, the German was unable to get any closer and reached the chequered flag in third.
The result moves G-Drive Racing, who also set the race’s fastest lap, up to third in the FIA Trophy for LMP2 Teams while Rast and Rusinov occupy third in the drivers’ championship. Brundle, contesting only his third race for the team in 2016, climbed four places to 15th.
The next round of the championship, the Six Hours of Fuji, Japan, takes place on 16 October, but G-Drive Racing return to action next weekend for the Four Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium as they continue to pursue the European Le Mans Series title with their #38 Gibson 015S-Nissan.
“In this circumstance of having to start from the back we finished third and it was not too bad. For sure it would be better to win but it was still a good result.
“We had some tough situations with the gearbox and brake issues in the last two races so it was nice for the team to get a podium. We know go to Fuji where I won last year so this is something I look forward to and to push for the victory.”
“The conditions were very tough with the temperature close to 100 degrees ambient. It was a real endurance test but I was happy with the way we performed and the pace in the car was very nice, I had fun out there. We had some frustrations over the weekend but we fought back well as a team and the spirit we have will, I am sure, mean that the first victory will come soon.”
“The opening of the race was good and I managed to carve through the GT classes and a good proportion of the LMP2 field quickly. We just lost out in a couple of the FCY periods which hurt us at the end.
“A podium was a solid result but when we know that we have class winning potential. The conditions were brutal out there and my race boots felt as though they were melting out there. I’ve never experienced conditions like those before.”
Sam Hignett, Partner – JOTA Sport
“It is nice to be back on the podium after the recent tough breaks we had. But we of course wanted to be on the top rung. It wasn’t possible today but we showed true fighting spirit coming from the back like that and Alex turned in a fine opening stint in very tough conditions.
“We were not able to capitalise on two of the Full Course Yellows due to being out of sequence on stops. This ultimately stopped us from challenging for the win. We know we are capable of taking a win with the pace of the car and the quality of the team, so we just have to be a little more patient for that first win of the year.”
Race Result & Points
LMP2 Race Result – Circuit of the Americas
1 Menezes/Lapierre/Richelmi Signatech Alpine A460-Nissan
2 Senna/Albuquerque/Gonzalez RGR Sport Ligier JS P2-Nissan
3 Brundle/Rast/Rusinov G-Drive Racing ORECA 05-Nissan
4 Minassian/Mediani SMP Racing BR01-Nissan
5 Dalziel/Derani/Cumming ESM Ligier JS P2-Nissan
6 Petrov/Ladygin/Shaitar SMP Racing BR01-Nissan
2016 FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers – After six rounds
1 Signatech Alpine 156
2 RGR Sport by Morand 118
3 G-Drive Racing 88
4 Extreme Speed Motorsports 84
5 Strakka Racing 58
6 SMP Racing 58
2016 FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Teams – After six rounds
1 Menezes/Lapierre/Richelmi 156
2 Senna/Albuquerque/Gonzalez 115
3 Rast/Rusinov 86
4 Cumming/Derani/Dalziel 84
5 Kane/Leventis 58
6 Ladygin/Shaitar/Petrov 52
15 Brundle 22