G-Drive Racing operated by Algarve Pro Racing took two outright podium finishes and a Pro-Am victory away from the rain-hit European Le Mans Series (ELMS) 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring (15-16 May).
The #26 crew of Roman Rusinov, Nyck de Vries and Franco Colapinto received the chequered flag in second place, ahead of the Pro-Am winning #25 trio of John Falb, Rui Andrade and Roberto Merhi in third, while the #24 Algarve Pro Racing entry of Diego Menchaca, Richard Bradley and Ferdinand Habsburg finished eighth.
The Red Bull Ring result promotes Rusinov, de Vries and Colapinto to second in the championship, while Falb and Andrade are joint-third in the overall points classification and first in Pro-Am after two rounds of the six-part 2021 ELMS season.
Roman Rusinov (#26 G-Drive Racing operated by APR Aurus 01 LMP2): “There were difficult conditions, but we managed a really strong performance. From seventh on the starting grid we quickly got into the lead and stayed there for much of the race. When it rained there was a choice between full wets and intermediate tyres. We bet on the intermediates, which was the right decision at the time, but the rain intensified and then eased off again, so we had to return to the pits to switch to full wets and then back to inters during the Safety Car. That turned out to be correct because we were soon running at the leader’s pace and emerged from the last stop in first position. Both G-Drive Racing operated by APR cars climbed onto the overall podium, with John (Falb), Rui (Andrade) and Roberto (Merhi) also winning the Pro-Am Cup – congratulations to them on their success!”
Franco Colapinto (#26 G-Drive Racing operated by APR Aurus 01 LMP2): “To finish second after starting the race from seventh position is obviously an amazing result, but it feels like we really deserved the win. We had the pace and G-Drive Racing operated by Algarve Pro Racing did a very strong job. It’s disappointing to lose the race due to crazy weather, but we’re second in the European Le Mans Series standings and we will keep fighting to get what we want. We’ll be back for more in the ELMS 4 Hours of Le Castellet.”
John Falb (#25 G-Drive Racing operated by APR Aurus 01 LMP2): “I made an excellent start but had to avoid a few incidents as drivers around me locked up tyres and tried crashing into each other at Turn 1 – I ran wide in avoidance of the chaos and took the lead, and while it was my intention to give the positions back, those drivers had fallen even further behind and I just had to keep going. I was eventually passed by a couple of cars and received a drive-through penalty, which was extremely harsh because it put us to the back of the pack.
“However, Rui (Andrade) did a great job during his stint, then the rain came and Roberto (Merhi) destroyed everybody in the wet conditions. We had to do an extra stop to figure out which tyre to be on, as others were crashing, but Roberto did a mega job putting the car first in Pro-Am and P3 overall, which reflects our positions in the championships.”
Rui Andrade (#25 G-Drive Racing operated by APR Aurus 01 LMP2): “What a day! We started the race with a drive-through penalty, which really stressed everyone out, but in the end, thanks to a Safety Car and a mega job by Roberto (Merhi), we managed to secure our first Pro-Am win and overall podium of the year. I’m really thankful to the G-Drive Racing operated by Algarve Pro Racing team for their hard work, as the strategy and pit stops were perfect and there was plenty of pace in the car. I can’t wait to do it all over again in Le Castellet!”
Algarve Pro Racing Team Principal, Stewart Cox, said: “It’s obviously great to come away from the Red Bull Ring with a double podium and victory in Pro-Am but we’re disappointed we couldn’t hold onto first place overall and we will put in the work to make sure we come back stronger in Le Castellet. We’re still fighting the fact our cars and equipment were delayed between the UAE and Barcelona, and only now are we getting back to where we should be. To be achieving these kind of results under the current circumstances is an impressive feat. I can’t thank the crews on all three cars enough for the work they’ve put in and, while they should be happy with the results, they know all three cars are capable of finishing at the top.
“From the drivers’ points of view, John (Falb) was just fantastic in the first stint, and the penalty he received was very aggressive, harsh and unjust. A number of cars ran wide at the first corner and only John was penalised. Rui (Andrade) once again demonstrated his pace and that he is a star of the future, and his third stint was out of this world. And after a super strong qualifying performance by the #24 ‘Drive Fast Act Faster’ crew, it was a real shame that Diego (Menchaca) lost so many positions because he had to avoid the Turn 1 incidents. Their strategy wasn’t quite as effective and all they could do was try to hold on inside the top eight. We recognise there’s work to do to improve the #24 car’s pit stops, and that’s something we will focus on between now and Le Castellet, but we’re satisfied we’ve shown a great turn of speed and are looking forward to the remaining four rounds of the 2021 season.”