G-DRIVE RACING SHOW DETERMINATION TO SCORE MORE POINTS AT SPA
10th May 2016
Misfortune prevented G-Drive Racing from capitalising on their pace during the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday, but the team was able to salvage vital points by getting both cars in to the top six of the LMP2 class.
The #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 05-Nissan of Rene Rast, Roman Rusinov and Nathanael Berthon finished in fifth position, recovering from a puncture sustained while holding a comfortable class lead in the early running.
Fresh from their European Le Mans Series victory at Silverstone, Giedo van der Garde and Simon Dolan were joined by single-seater ace Jake Dennis in the #38 G-Drive Racing Gibson 015S-Nissan, taking a hard-earned sixth place.
The combined efforts of Rast and Rusinov in qualifying saw the #26 car start from pole position, with Rast converting that into an early lead and rapidly pulling clear of the opposition with a superb double stint at the start.
Rast had pulled 20 seconds clear of the field before handing the cockpit over to Nathanael Berthon.The Frenchman had positioned the #26 car right behind the leading #44 Manor ORECA and was poised to retake the lead when he sustained a left-rear puncture after contact with a GT car at the start of the third hour, forcing him to limp back to the pits, losing valuable positions.
By the time the car re-joined, a lap had been lost to the class leaders, but Rusinov was able to impressively claw his way back up to sixth place by the time the race reached the four-hour mark.
Rene Rast, No.26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 05-Nissan
“The start of the race was really nice and I felt really comfortable in the car. The balance was great and I was able to make a good gap without risking anything too much.
“Then in the second hour Nat had the issue with the GT and we also had a puncture, it was a shame. But, we take some really strong things away for Le Mans after showing we can lead the way on pace for most of the weekend in qualifying and in the race today.”
Roman Rusinov, No.26 G-Drive ORECA 05-Nissan
“We had the difficulties with the incident and the puncture but for me I feel positive at the end of the race because we got pole and we got some good points but more importantly we showed how quick we could be during the whole event.
“We now go to Le Mans with some good momentum knowing that we can be leading the pace. I think there is a lot to look forward to and as a team we are very strong.”
Jake Dennis, No.38 G-Drive Gibson 015S-Nissan
“I loved every second of my first endurance event this week. I was happy with my stints and my performance in the race. We were quick but ended up losing four laps because of the issues. The team was fantastic and so were my teammates. I can’t wait until Le Mans next month.”
Sam Hignett, Partner – JOTA Sport
“It was a tough day today but we never gave up and showed a lot of speed and spirit to claim some more vital points in out title quest. The team showed great reaction to the damage after the contact that Nathanael had with the GT car and then also the puncture.
“The guys in No.38 came through to claim sixth place which under the circumstances, after losing time with the mirror issue and then the two-minute penalty, was a good effort. All our drivers performed superbly this weekend but in particular Jake Dennis was very impressive on his debut.
The team were again magnificent and we now re-group for the Le Mans test day next month which will be vital for both cars in order to ensure we get in the best shape possible for the biggest race of the year.”
Rast took over again at the finish for the final stint, and he was able to gain one more position thanks to a problem for the #35 Signatech Alpine in the closing stages and take the chequered flag in fifth. The German evidenced the pace of the G-Drive Racing ORECA 05-Nissan by setting the fastest lap of the LMP2 category with a 2m09.317s lap.
The #38 Gibson 015S, started by ex-Formula 1 star van der Garde dropped from an early fourth place at the first round of pitstops due to a loose mirror that required replacing.
Dolan had taken over the car and was in the process of making up the lost ground when there was some contact at the Stavelot Corner with Nicki Thiim’s Aston Martin.
The stewards called the car in to serve a two-minute stop-and-go-penalty afterwards, but this time loss was mitigated by Dennis’ pace during a triple stint in the middle portion of the race, the young Briton excelling on his FIA WEC debut and putting the car up to seventh at the start of the final hour.
Seventh became sixth when the #35 Alpine had its problems, van der Garde taking over for the closing stages and bringing the #38 G-Drive Gibson 015S-Nissan home in sixth, one place behind the sister car.
Both cars, which are operationally run by the JOTA Sport organisation, will race at the Le Mans 24 Hours in June.
Result and Points from Spa
LMP2 Race Result – Spa
1.Menezes/Lapierre/Richelmi Signatech Alpine A460-Nissan 151laps
2.Derani/Dalziel/Cumming Tequila Patrón ESM Ligier JS P2-Nissan +3.579s
3.Rao/Bradley/Merhi Manor ORECA Nissan +5.069s
4.Gonzalez/Albuquerque/Senna RGR Sport by Morand Ligier-Nissan +5.464s
5. Rast/Berthon/Rusinov G-Drive ORECA 05-Nissan +1 lap
6. Dolan/Van der Garde/Dennis G-Drive ORECA 05-Nissan +3 laps
2016 FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers – After Two Rounds
1. Gonzalez/Albuquerque/Senna 37pts
2. Menezes/Lapierre/Richelmi 37pts
3. Derani/Dalziel/Cumming 36pts
4. Berthon/Rast/Rusinov 27pts
5. Rao/Bradley/Merhi 23pts
6. Watts/Kane/Leventis 10pts