G-DRIVE RACING TAKES STRONG SECOND PLACE AT 2016 LE MANS 24 HOURS
20th June 2016
G-Drive Racing celebrated an excellent second place in a typically gruelling Le Mans 24 Hours last weekend.
Roman Rusinov, Rene Rast and Will Stevens finished the world’s greatest and toughest race in seventh position overall, after a stellar effort in the G-Drive Racing ORECA 05-Nissan.
The race began under difficult conditions when a rain storm drenched the circuit and ensured a Safety Car start for the record 60-car grid. Rast led away from the LMP2 pole position and controlled the first stint, but the infamous cruelty of Le Mans soon manifested itself in the shape of a puncture, relegating the No.26 car down the order.
Throughout the early evening and night the No.26 G-Drive Racing ORECA fought back in to the lead group, with each of the three drivers completing excellent and flawless stints at the wheel.
A drive-through penalty and then a stop/go for a slow zone procedure issue also lost some time but the team never gave up on its quest for victory and pushed hard right until the chequered flag.
The result means that the #26 car took 37 points valuable FIA WEC points promoting Rast and Rusinov to second position in the LMP2 standings. It was also the third consecutive year that JOTA Sport, the operational arm of the G-Drive Racing team have been on the Le Mans LMP2 podium, as they won in 2014 and placed second last year.
Rast also set the fastest LMP2 lap of the race during one of his remarkable long stints, as he and teammates Stevens and Rusinov challenged the eventual class winners – Signatech Alpine.
The G-Drive Racing No.38 entry was forced to retire in the morning, just after 10am, after it was hit by the LMGTE AM Aston Martin and sent in to an accident at the final chicane. It was a cruel blow for the car which had enjoyed a trouble-free run through the first 15 hours of the race.
The Simon Dolan, Giedo van der Garde and Jake Dennis crewed Gibson 015S-Nissan was in contention to join the #26 car on the podium after a well-judged race. But despite attempts to repair the car, the diligent G-Drive Racing crew could not complete suitable repairs in time, and the car was forced to retire on safety grounds after damage to the fuel system was discovered.
As well as the pole position, fastest lap and second place, the G-Drive Racing team spent less time than any of its rivals in the pits. In addition, both cars didn’t have a single mechanical problem throughout the race, again emphasising the quality and professionalism of the G-Drive Racing squad.
The next race on the schedule for the team is the third round of the European Le Mans Series at Red Bull Ring next month. The fourth round of the FIA WEC takes place at Nurburgring on 24th July.
Roman Rusinov, No.26 G-Drive ORECA-Nissan
“We tried to win but at Le Mans it hurts you like nowhere else when you get small things such as a puncture like we did. On the plus side we were quick and we were always in contention. We were also a little unlucky with some of the slow zones and the safety car too, but this is all part of it.
“For the points we have lost some to them (Signatech Alpine) but there is a long way to go in this season and we are very motivated and focused to start winning at Nurburgring next month.”
Rene Rast, No.26 G-Drive Racing ORECA-Nissan
“The pace was tremendous and I felt really good in the car but at Le Mans, even if one small thing goes against you, then you have no chance to win. So we went back a bit with the puncture and the penalties. When another car doesn’t have any issues it is tough and you have to play catch-up a bit.”
Will Stevens, No.26 G-Drive Racing ORECA-Nissan
“It was my first time at Le Mans and my first time with G-Drive Racing, and I had to learn quickly but knowing the car from my Manor races so far, it was ok.
“We showed good pace all week with pole, fastest lap and showing we could really challenge, but it wasn’t to be this year, despite us being the quickest car and being able to control the pace at stages. We took some risks after the early issues but it just didn’t quite pay off.”
Giedo van der Garde, No.38 G-Drive Racing Gibson-Nissan
“We were in line for a podium but we were taken out by a GTE AM car and really it just shows how cruel this race can be. It was unbelievable experience at my first Le Mans, racing in the dark, rain, sun, at dawn, etc. The team and my team mates were fantastic throughout but it was an unlucky break that saw us retire. But, I’ll return, and I am determined to be on that famous Le Mans podium.”
Sam Hignett, JOTA Group Director
“As a new two-car operation there were a lot of huge positives from this result at Le Mans. It continues the trend of us being on the podium every year since 2014, and although we were denied two cars up there by an accident out of our control, we come away with healthy points in the WEC and a lot of positive experience for future campaigns too.
“All of our drivers were terrific this week. In the #38 car Giedo was super quick and proved himself immediately at Le Mans; Jake was a star and has shown he is a really hot prospect and Simon had another great run here. We have a lot to look forward to, and be positive about, in the remaining FIA WEC and ELMS races.”
Gary Holland, G-Drive Racing Team Manager
“From a performance and operational perspective it was a very successful weekend and as a team I think we can be really proud. We have presented ourselves well as a two-car squad here at Le Mans and it is nice to see us developing as a unit and getting solid results.”
Photo Credits: Jakob Ebrey Photography