• 2 ORECA 07s on the podium
  • Pole position and fastest lap for G-Drive Racing
  • 1st podium in LM P2 for Graff Racing

The 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring were very exciting until the very last racing metres and almost led to a 2nd back-to-back win of G-Drive Racing in the European Le Mans Series. Yet the Russian team missed had to make do with the second place – beaten by less than five seconds – just in front of Graff Racing’s two ORECA 07s.

Things had actually started quite well for G-Drive Racing, on this fast track in Austria. For the first time of the year, the team had received support from Sporting Director Nicolas Minassian, replacing Ryo Hirakawa behind the wheel. The orange ORECA 07 confirmed its excellent free practice sessions and claimed the pole position thanks to Leo Roussel, just in front of DragonSpeed in the box next door.

Just as comfortable during his first stint, the young French driver led the race until the first stops for refuelling. United Autosports’s Ligier then made the most of a super-fast pit stop managed to take control of the race. DragonSpeed never raced the first place this Sunday. Having gone down two places very shortly after the start, Nicolas Lapierre came back very close to the leader. But the cruellest was to come for the American team as at the end of the 3rd hour, Henrik Hedman’s car, in fourth place at the time, totally stopped on the track, having run out of fuel.

While G-Drive Racing battled with United Autosports, taking over in the 3rd hour, Graff Racing delivered a solid race and came back towards the podium despite Allen/Bradley/Yacaman’s No. 40 receiving a ten-second penalty and having to change rear bodywork, which involuntarily favoured sister car: Trouillet/Guibbert/Petit’s No. 39.

Slightly disturbed by a few drops of rain, the last half hour of the race finally saw G-Drive Racing letting go of the first place after the very last refuelling stop. Despite Leo Roussel’s combativeness, G-Drive Racing’s ORECA 07 was not able to take back control of the race. Yet with this 2nd place, and a third podium in three rounds, the Russian team remains at the top of the standings before the summer break.

“I usually don’t complain about the traffic but this time, losing 13 seconds because another LM P2 driver does not watch for blue flags and some more seconds in the pits behind an LM P3 that’s a bit stuck… Well, let’s stay positive anyway. We had the best car in terms of performance. We demonstrated it in the practice sessions, in the qualifying and throughout the race. It’s important for the rest of the season” said Nicolas Minassian.

Behind G-Drive Racing, Graff Racing gets a result with both its cars and Trouillet/Guibbert/Petit’s climbed on the LM P2 podium for the first time.

After a well-deserved summer break, contenders will meet again in late August at the Paul Ricard Circuit (August 26th-28th), moving onto the second part of the season.

Author Olivier Loisy

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