G-Drive Racing by Algarve Pro Racing suffered a series of setbacks with both the #68 and #69 ORECA 07 LMP2s during the hours of darkness, but the Russian-flagged team is showing a great deal of resolve and determination to reach the finish of the 2022 Rolex 24 at Daytona (29-30 January).
Having served a drive-through for a jump start during the opening minutes of the twice-around-the-clock enduro, the #69 quartet of John Falb, Tijmen van der Helm, James Allen and Luca Ghiotto were a fixture at the top end of the LMP2 pack until the early hours of Sunday morning (30 January).
Full Course Yellows (FCY) and Safety Cars were frequent during the night, and the stop/start nature of the race left the fight for the LMP2 victory wide open.
G-Drive Racing by APR led at various intervals, firstly during an impressive stint mired by sickness for Van der Helm and later with Australia’s Allen and Italy’s Ghiotto at the controls, but the race took a turn when a suspension failure cost the #69 crew 20 laps and several positions.
Sadly, the Russian-flagged team was struck by more misfortune upon its return to the track; Allen skillfully avoided a collision with a wayward rival and was unable to restart the engine, and G-Drive Racing by APR’s mechanics are currently investigating the problem in the pits.
In the #68 ORECA 07 LMP2, meanwhile, Francois Heriau, Oliver Rasmussen, Ed Jones and Rene Rast faced a number of obstacles, as an early puncture was followed by two trips ‘behind the wall’ to fix a mechanical issue and replace a toe-link, damaged in a spin that occurred during Rasmussen’s second stint.
Some nine laps adrift of the lead LMP2 pack at half-distance, Heriau, Rasmussen, Jones and Rast pushed on and gained ground on the competition, reducing their deficit to seven laps and climbing to fifth in class by the 18-hour mark.
Rene Rast (#68 G-Drive Racing by APR ORECA 07 LMP2): “It’s fair to say we haven’t been very lucky, having had a puncture and two technical issues that forced us ‘behind the wall’ for repairs. We’re seven laps down and still fighting for sixth, and, while we’re coming back slowly and steadily, it’s really hard to regain laps The car is still very quick, but I’m hoping for a bit of good fortune to enable us to recover some ground before the end of the race.”