G-Drive Racing by Algarve Pro Racing is running well inside the top five in LMP2 with the #69 crew of John Falb, Tijmen van der Helm, James Allen and Luca Ghiotto after six hours of the 2022 Rolex 24 at Daytona (29-30 January).
The Russian-flagged team laid much of the groundwork for the Rolex 24 in the dry ‘Roar’ tests a week prior to the twice-around-the-clock enduro, therefore the team was unaffected by the unseasonably cool and changeable conditions that compromised free practice.
However, teams headed into the unknown when the skies cleared and temperatures tumbled dramatically for the start of the 60th anniversary Daytona 24 Hours at 13:40 on Saturday (29 January).
Nevertheless, John Falb – eager to get underway – surged from seventh to first away from the line In what initially appeared to be a tremendous launch, but the American Am was deemed to have jumped the start, and a drive-through penalty put him some 40 seconds off the lead in tenth.
Full Course Yellow (FCY) periods brought the #69 quartet back into the fight, and the crew rose to the top of the LMP2 classification during a stellar stint from Tijmen van der Helm, who returned the car to Falb as the sun set on Daytona.
Francois Heriau, meanwhile, circulated well inside the top five during the first hour, despite a mid-stint spin at Turn 6, but the #68 car suffered a puncture shortly after endurance racing debutant Oliver Rasmussen took the reins, before losing six laps to the LMP2 leaders while G-Drive Racing by APR rectified a mechanical issue ‘behind the wall’.
John Falb (#69 G-Drive Racing by APR ORECA 07 LMP2): “I made a great start – I had a lot of fun sending it around the outside of the banking – and I was quickly in first place, which I’m stoked about. Unfortunately, I may have been too aggressive and we got a drive-through, but the car is strong and we’re in a good place at this stage of the race.”
Francois Heriau (#68 G-Drive Racing by APR ORECA 07 LMP2): “I tried to be safe and cautious at the start because there were so many cars overtaking. My priority was to find my pace and run my own race, and I felt the second part of my stint was much better with more experience of managing the traffic, and I was fully prepared to step back in the car as the sun set. The low temperatures made it tricky at the beginning because we can’t use tyre-warmers in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, but I managed to warm them and everything felt normal qiockly. The puncture and our mechanical troubles were unfortunate but we have opportunities to gain laps back in Full Course Yellows and Safety Cars, and there’s a long way to go.”
Oliver Rasmussen (#68 G-Drive Racing by APR ORECA 07 LMP2): “It was my first ever stint in endurance racing and I didn’t really know what to expect, to be honest. It was pretty hectic, but I made an improvement and felt good in my last stint, and I’m really happy to have shown speed. To suffer mechanical problems is a little frustrating, but it’s motorsport and we still have 18 hours to recover as much ground as possible. We are a long way from the flag, so we’ll push and try to maximise every opportunity from now on.”