Rumours are beginning to do the rounds regarding G-Drive Racing, and the plans that Roman Rusinov has for the team for 2018.
The recent announcement from TDS Racing that they are returning to WEC for the 2018/2019 Super Season makes no mention of the G-Drive branded car that they ran in the WEC in 2017.
Meanwhile, over in ELMS, DragonSpeed have announced a move to WEC LMP1 with the new Dallara BR1, and a single car LMP2 effort in ELMS. DragonSpeed have also made no announcement regarding the G-Drive branded car they ran in 2017.
The latest rumour is that the G-Drive Racing brand will switch team for 2018 and the operation will be run by Graff Racing in ELMS, with Rusinov at the wheel. Whether that will extend to a possible WEC effort remains to be seen.
If the move happens, it makes Graff the sixth different team to run G-Drive colours in ACO racing. Previous teams include Signatech, OAK, Jota, TDS and DragonSpeed. If you extend outside of ACO, you can also add WRT to the list (and probably more I’ve missed!).
This is all speculation, and should be treated as such. The G-Drive rumours are always some of the most fun during the winter. Rusinov, one of the biggest personalities in the ACO paddocks, likes to chop and change things year to year. 2018 looks like it follows that template and Graff look to be the next team to run a G-Drive car.
The move appears to make sense on paper. The DragonSpeed ELMS effort isn’t ideal, as it appears to be funded by Henrik Hedman still. The amateur driver did not get his license upgraded to Silver, so is still (as it currently stands) not eligible to run in the DragonSpeed LMP1 entry. An LMP2 entry is more appropriate for the bronze rated Swede.
But that raises an issue for G-Drive. Rusinov and G-Drive are here to win, and partnering yourself with a gentleman bronze driver isn’t how you cross the line first. So unless DragonSpeed run a third car, or Rusinov wants to embrace his gold status more, it perhaps isn’t an option.
The TDS partnership didn’t run smoothly when it came to race results either. By the end of the year, the G-Drive car was still fast but out of running for the title. Pierre Thiriet stepped away from the program towards the end as well, and he has close ties with the TDS team.
Graff looks like a good bet. The team had a terrific step up into the ELMS LMP2 class, and are surely considered title contenders for 2018. It would probably mean sticking with the Oreca 07 as well, so familiar equipment.
Something to take into account is the potentially oversubscribed grid for the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours. A bumper LMP1 field, combined with extra GTE-Pro cars from IMSA are going to leave little space for the ELMS LMP2 and GTE-Am grid. Aligning yourself with a French team might just get you that slot.