After a race which G-Drive Racing dominated most of the time, the squad finally had to settle for second place in the opening round of this European Le Mans Series season, in Silverstone. The Russian team is nonetheless satisfied with this result. Together with DragonSpeed and Graff Racing, they all enabled the ORECA 07 to regularly reach the first place and take control of the race, throughout this ‘so British’ weekend.
The delegation of ORECA 07s has plenty to be satisfied with in this European Le Mans Series. After the fantastic pole position achieved by Ben Hanley, DragonSpeed were the first to shine, having led the beginning of the race. Then, and though they had started from the back of the grid, Graff took over with crew Allen-Matelli-Bradley, going from 28th to 1st place during the first hour.
But soon G-Drive Racing would take control of the 4 Hours of Silverstone. Extremely consistent, trio Hirakawa-Rojas-Roussel on board the No. 22 ORECA 07 reached the 1st place before mid-race. With authority, the Russian team completed a perfect second part of the round, and seemed to be racing for a first success. Unfortunately, during Hirakawa’s very last stint, the lead they had built up throughout the 3rd hour quickly melted away. Racing with a set of tyres seriously damaged from the qualifying sessions, G-Drive’s car could not fight back against first rival behind it, which stole victory from the team, just a few kilometres away from the chequered flag.
“There’s no way we’re going to be disappointed” says Nicolas Minassian, now DragonSpeed’s Team Manager, and also bringing technical and management support to G-Drive Racing. “We delivered a good performance. Lots of positive things to remember after such a weekend. Yes, our car and our race got thwarted by some issues with the gearbox control unit. But apart from that, the team and three drivers did well overall. As for the No. 22 crew, they unfortunately made a mistake during the practice sessions and then paid for it at the end of the race. Obviously that’s a bit frustrating but that’s part of our learning process. We’re a young team, our drivers need to learn as well. We need to work on how to manage our races, but with the whole championship in mind, as the bigger picture. The overall outcome is satisfying for the team, that’s what we need to keep in mind.”
As for Graff, main driver Eric Touillet reported similarly. “There was some stumbling and difficulties when changing wheels. Personally I experienced an engine shut-off as I was coming out of the pits and taking back to the track. The reset required in that case meant that we lost some seconds then. But generally speaking, we’ve shown great things this weekend. Our cars were really competitive and the entire staff did a great job to really make the most of the ORECA 07 which this weekend demonstrated it’s the fastest one on track. We need to refine some things, but we’re confident for what’s to come.”
Next round will take place on Monza race track, on May 12th, 13th & 14th.
Source. Oreca/Photo. John Patterson