G-DRIVE RACING TAKE SENSATIONAL LAST-TO-FIRST VICTORY AT WEC FINALE
20th November 2016
G-Drive Racing ended the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship with an incredible LMP2 class victory at the season finale, the 6 Hours of Bahrain on Saturday (19 November).
The three-man line-up of Rene Rast, Roman Rusinov and Alex Brundle started from the rear of the 31-car grid, but turned in the performance of the season to snatch a dramatic victory late in the race in their #26 ORECA 05-Nissan.
The win was the third straight WEC victory for G-Drive Racing, who are run operationally by the British JOTA Sport organisation, and the fourth in as many races including their title-winning success at the European Le Mans Series finale at Estoril in October.
The pace of the trio was evident during practice and qualifying and a fifth pole position of the year – the highest number of any LMP2 team in 2016 was duly secured by Rene Rast and Roman Rusinov.
While an minor post-qualifying technical issue forced Rast to start from the tail of the field, the German overtook 11 cars on the opening lap and had moved into the LMP2 top five by the end of his opening double-stint.
Excellent stints from Rusinov and Brundle brought the orange ORECA into contention for victory, despite an ill-timed full-course caution period contriving to lose Brundle – who had stopped under green-flag conditions a few minutes earlier – over 20 seconds to his key rivals.
Rast, who missed the previous WEC event in China to attend the birth of his son Liam, took over for the final 90 minutes of the race in fourth place and immediately set about closing in on those ahead of him.
Despite falling more than a minute off the lead following contact with a slower GTE Corvette, Rast never gave up and found himself on the tail of Filipe Albuquerque’s #43 RGR Sport machine with 20 minutes remaining.
Having gone wheel-to-wheel with the #43 car earlier in the race, Rast did not hesitate in slicing down the inside of his rival cleanly into Turn 1 with just a quarter of an hour left and pulling away to victory by seven seconds.
The result secured third place in the LMP2 Teams’ Championship – just five points away from second spot – and ensured Rusinov clinched the same position in the drivers’ standings.
Rast and Brundle, neither of whom have completed the full season with G-Drive, ended the season fifth and sixth. Briton Will Stevens, who deputised for Rast in the victorious Japanese and Chinese races, was confirmed in seventh place.
David Clark, Team Director
“What a great team effort today, especially from Alex (Brundle) who did a brilliant middle stint. I think it was this stint that gave us the track position which enabled Rene to attack at the end and get the lead from the RGR Sport car.
“The team showed great fortitude after the qualifying disappointment and one thing I know is that no-one on the team ever gives up. We showed real grit and determination to come from the back and it was a highly satisfying way to see the season out with three straight wins in the WEC and of course the ELMS title which we claimed last month.”
“This was a really strong race victory for us. I like this track very much and it is one we can attack well with the car we developed through the week in the practice sessions.
“Starting from the back of the grid was a real challenge of course but we met the challenge and defeated it. I am very proud of our achievement today. A third win feels great and we have proved that we can be fast and consistent at a variety of tracks.”
“It was a tough race and it tested everyone in the team to the maximum but we showed our mettle and that we can do it from the back. It was a bit of an epic and a race in which we showed some really strong characteristics.
“The team were excellent in the pit stops and we never faltered at all. We have enjoyed three strong races where we have shown our strengths in strategy, fighting for positions and getting faster and faster as weekend’s ware on. I am delighted the team have ended the year in this fashion and it has been very satisfying to be part of these three wins.”
“It is a great achievement to go from the back of the grid to winning the class. The start was not so easy even though I made some nice progress. Roman and Alex did some great work in the middle phase and then I was able to really attack at the end and overtake Filipe in to Turn One. I knew had to be decisive and I was. It feels great to get a win this season after we were so close earlier in the year. Thanks to the team and my teammates for a really enjoyable season.”
Race Results & Final points
LMP2 Race Result – 6 Hours of Bahrain
1 Brundle/Rast/Rusinov G-Drive Racing ORECA 05-Nissan
2 Albuquerque/Gonzalez/Senna RGR Sport Ligier JS P2-Nissan
3 Lapierre/Menezes/Richelmi Signatech Alpine A460-Nissan
4 Cumming/Dalziel/Derani ESM Ligier JS P2-Nissan
5 Dillmann/Gelael/van der Garde ESM Ligier JS P2-Nissan
6 Chatin/Cheng/Tung Baxi DC Racing Alpine A460-Nissan
2016 FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers – Final Standings
1 Lapierre/Menezes/Richelmi 199
2 Albuquerque/Senna/Gonzalez 166
3 Rusinov 162
4 Cumming/Dalziel/Derani 116
5 Rast 111
6 Brundle 98
2016 FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Teams – Final Standings
1 Signatech Alpine 199
2 RGR Sport by Morand 169
3 G-Drive Racing 164
4 Extreme Speed Motorsports 116
5 Extreme Speed Motorsports 78
6 SMP Racing 69
8 SMP Racing 60