The 4th round of the World Endurance Championship took place on the famous Nürburgring circuit in Germany this week-end. After Le Mans 24 Hours race last June, the team had a very little time to rebuild the car and G-Drive’s Oreca was heading to Germany with a 3mn penalty. Ben Hanley, ELMS Dragonspeed driver took over Alex Lynn on duties in the USA for the Formula E, lining up with usual G-Drive drivers Roman Rusinov and Pierre Thiriet. After a hard race due to penalties, the team is nevertheless be proud to finish 6th in the LMP2 category.
After efficient free practice sessions in which Ben Hanley, Roman Rusinov and Pierre Thiriet took the necessary time to get used to each other, and for Ben to get into the car, Russian team did a super qualifying session, thanks to Ben and Pierre who set the overall LMP2 fastest combined time in 1.45.001, just 42 /100th ahead of #38 Jackie Chang DC Racing Le Mans and 6 Hours of Nürburgring LMP2 winner. Unfortunately, the lap times were cancelled after post qualifying scrutineering.
Ben Hanley started therefore the race from the back of the grid, but the objectives of the team was to do the best possible race in complicated start conditions. Quick enough, he made it back to the LMP2 field before handing the wheel to Roman Rusinov after 46 laps. Russian driver took over for 50 laps continuing the progression in the general classification, before French driver Pierre Thiriet made his 46 laps stint. Ben took the wheel to the end of the race where he managed to overtake again (60 overtake during his race time), reaching thus the LMP2 6th position of the WEC 6 Hours of Nürburgring.
WHAT THEY SAID ABOUT THEIR RACE:</strong
Xavier Combet (Team Manager):
” Our team has done a magnificent job this weekend, showing it’s qualities and its performance abilities, even if it was penalised for a tiny 1.5 mm on a totally new part. That’s part of racing and regulations, and we have to admit it although we never meant to do anything wrong. Nevertheless, it gave us some additional hard time on a race that was already penalised by Le Mans sanction. We can only be very happy about the results, and if we could count Le Mans penalty out – that is 3mn – we would have finished the race in second LMP2 position, and of course if we had been in this position we would have fought for a better place on the podium. So the final issue of this weekend is very positive. The team and the drivers did a very good job, and in the difficulties it was a very strong and fused team. The final result of this race does not reflect the team’s level, and we have continued learning a great deal here in Germany. We can only be stronger and better together for the coming races. ”
Roman Rusinov (RUS)
” With the penalty from Le Mans, there was no way we could fight for the LMP2 win, unless something incredible had happen ahead of the field, so our objectives was to do the best possible race to add some points to our championship standing. In fact we did a great race, because starting from the back of the grid and with the Le Mans penalty, we still finish 6th LMP2. It was hard to deal with blue flags, and I am not used to it. Ben has really well integrated the team, he did a superb job for his first race with us. As for Pierre, he is constant and regular, he knows how and when to be quick… We set the fastest LMP2 lap time, were quick and regular in the race, so we can say we did a great race, even if it doesn’t show on the paper. We did show that our car and our driver line-up are good and that we can win. That’s what we will aim to do in the coming races. ”
Ben Hanley (GBR):
” It was really great to start with the overall fastest lap during qualifying session, but we lost it unfortunately. Anyway, even if we had several ‘problems’ to deal with, I can say it was a good race and we had a good pace. It’s a shame we had that Le Mans penalty, because even starting from the back, we could have work it out to the podium. It shows how competitive we were during the whole race week-end. The team did a great job in giving us a car with which we were able to push really hard, especially in the second stint with used tires. It’s an unfortunate result, but a great team performance. This car and this team were not totally new to me, as I already did a race with them in Spa (Neighbour car TDS Racing), so I knew how the team works and how competitive the car is. We did the pole, we were quick on the average in the race. We had to overtake a lot and the traffic was sometimes hard to deal with, but it is mostly true when you are very closed to another LMP2, as you lose a lot of downforce, so the big job was to manage the tires and wait for the opportunities. That’s also what I did during the final battle with Vitali Petrov… It was really tricky and I did not want to risk anything, so I waited for the right moment, and I got it, so that was great! ”
Pierre Thiriet (FRA):
” It was a difficult weekend, but honestly we made a very good race. If we ‘only’ had had the qualifying disqualification, we could still have fought for the podium and that’s pretty good news. We were quick and constant and the challenge was quite exiting. But we had that Le Mans penalty which really hindered us to make any better result on the paper. That’s part of racing, we have to accept it. The car felt great and even if I was a little hard on the tires at the beginning of my stint, I managed to continue being constant in my second stint. The complicated thing to deal with were the blue flags and the fact that we had to let the other LMP2 go by, that’s never very nice… but that’s also part of racing. The important thing to remember today is that G-Drive showed that we are still a car to fight with and that we can win races. We have shown this potential since the beginning of the season, and we will continue that way, even if we are low in the championship classification, in fact our place does not reflect what we are able to do. It will be very hard to come back, but we will not stop fighting for podiums and race wins. See you in Mexico! “