The Shanghai International circuit was built in 2004, develops 5,451 km and is made of 16 turns including a hairpin and two straights. This makes this racetrack tricky for the drivers and the tires, and allows some great battles on track, as it was the case again this weekend.
G-Drive driver line-up was made of usual Russian driver Roman Rusinov and two new drivers to WEC. 25 Years old Swiss Nico Müller (Audi DTM driver) experienced a WEC race for the very first time, and he demonstrated great driving skills at the wheel of a sport prototype. The second young gung of the team this weekend was French newly ELMS crowned Léo Roussel, 22 years old.
During the free practice sessions, the #26 ORECA 07 set the second fastest time of FP1, 7th lap time of FP2 and topped the classification of FP3. Both new comers shared the duty of qualifying the car, setting the second best average. This gave the #26 the chance to start the race on the LMP2 front row, beside pole sitter and eventual race winner #31 Vaillante Rebellion.
Nico Müller started the race on third row but was trapped in an incident in the first lap, which shattered all the efforts of the good qualification. Nevertheless, the Swiss fought back as much as possible during his first double stint to catch up, and overtake the cars that had gone by. For his first WEC race the new ELMS champion Léo Roussel took over after 45 laps as the car was in 6th LMP2 position. He maintained the #26 in a good place, avoiding some traps and showing very good attack skills, taking for example the best advantage of the end of FCY to pass #24 Manor TRS Racing. Great move. After 47 laps, he handed the car back to Nico Müller in P3. Nico fought hard with Rebellion, and demonstrated stunning racing and a great battle with David Heinemeier Hanson. The Danish driver even thanked him for the great battle at the end of the race. Unfortunately in lap 136, Nico was involved in an accident with #38 Jackie Chang DC Racing, for which he was penalized with a 10 second stop. When Roman Rusinov took over, after the repairs, the #26 was back in 8th position. Fighting to catch up he spun and damaged the tires, nevertheless, he managed to take the car to the end of the race. The G-Drive Oreca 07 finished 7th in the LMP2 classification.
WHAT THEY SAID ABOUT THEIR RACE:
Xavier Combet – Team manager: “We could have done a great race with a good car and a great driver line-up. Unfortunately it all started straight away with Nelson Piquet pushing Nico Müller in the first lap which made the car spin. So we lost a lot of time to come back up front, and Nico and Léo did a very good job. We were able to fight for a podium but we lost again a lot of time to get the car back to the box after the accident in lap 136, to do the repairs and send it back out with Roman.
The positive thing to remember is that we really were in the pace from the beginning of the weekend as Nico and Léo did a very good qualifying session. In addition, it’s good to see that the car is not totally damaged after the accident with DC Chang Racing, and that Léo Roussel has proven once again that he really deserves his ELMS champion title. He was quick and in the rhythm of the fastest drivers, he even set the fastest LMP2 average speed several times during the 6-hour race.”
Source. G-Drive Racing