On Sunday Greaves Motorsport achieved 5th and 13th places at the 6 hours of Silverstone, the fourth round of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship. While finishing any major endurance sportscar race is a source of satisfaction, the team considers that the result does not reflect the performance potential of the team and drivers.
Qualifying on Saturday had seen the Alex Brundle take a maiden endurance racing pole position in the #42 Nissan Zytek Z11SN, while Elton Julian was competitively placed in the #41 sister car. The potential was there for a good result for both crews, and especially, in the case of #41 to strengthen their challenge in the chase for the FIA WEC LM P2 Championship. These aspirations were not realised during the race on Sunday, during which a series of incidents robbed both cars of the results that their pace would surely have earned them.
Ricardo Gonzalez received the news on Sunday morning that his grandfather passed away. Ricardo was very close to his grandfather but despite this was determined to race. As a mark of respect he wore a black armband during his time behind the wheel. Greaves Motorsport would like to extend their sincere condolences to Ricardo and to his family.
The principal goal of the weekend for #41 was to aim at improving their FIA WEC position given that the points table is finely balanced at the top. This ambition was not helped by losing virtually one free practice session with a transmission issue. As none of the drivers were familiar with Silverstone, in contrast to virtually everyone else in the field, they faced a steep learning curve. However by the time the cars lined up on the grid the crew were confident of a good result. A fast opening stint from Elton was followed similar strong performances from Christian and Ricardo. Then with about an hour to go disaster struck and Elton was forced to pit with an alternator problem. This cost the #41 car several laps and any chance of a good finish. The car was repaired and Elton showed good pace on his way to the Chequered Flag but the damage in terms of Championship points was done.
Starting from pole position after Alex’s fantastic performance on Saturday, the crew of #42 had high expectations for the race. Even before Alex reached the first corner these were in disarray as he had to go a long way off track to avoid a spinning LM P1 car. This meant that he was stuck down the field almost last and behind one or two competitors that did not show the same speed as his Nissan Zytek. Once past these Alex ran at the leaders’ pace and stabilised the gap to the front. Lucas drove the second stint and continued the progress up the leader board till he ran over a plastic corner bollard that was lying in the middle of the back straight and this lodged itself at the rear undertray, causing an aerodynamic problem as well as partially blocking the airflow to the radiators. This forced an out of sequence pitstop, Martin took over and ran at the leading pace till an an issue at a Safety Car restart earned him a Stop and Go penalty. Alex then climbed aboard for his final stints and was the fastest car on the track in LM P2, a performance mirrored by Lucas in the final stint when chasing down the opposition. An indication of the speed of the car was that Lucas and Alex posted second and third fastest laps in LM P2. At the flag the Nissan Zytek was fifth, but it was a case of what might have been.
Nissan Zytek ZN11SN – Car #41 – Christian Zugel, Ricardo Gonzalez, Elton Julian
Qualifying 11th -1:50.993
Race 13th, fastest lap 1:51.351
Christian Zugel: “To race at Silverstone, one the most famous and fastest tracks in the world is an awesome experience, particularly in the Nissan Zytek. Perhaps events did not go our way but that is how it is sometimes in life. I would like to thank the whole Greaves Motorsport crew who worked hard to get us into a competitive position and especially Elton and Ricardo who drove really well, keeping us in the title chase. I would like to extend my condolences to Ricardo and his family over the death of his grandfather. I am looking forward to putting this result behind us and getting back towards the top at the next round in Sao Paolo.”
Ricardo Gonzalez: “It was an extremely difficult weekend in many ways. My grandfather passed away yesterday and that situation only gets worse when you are so far away from your family, I ran this race in his honour.
We had a mechanical problem that kept us from running in the first practice and that really hurt us pretty bad, it’s always bad when you lose track time but at Silverstone it was specially difficult since it is a place that so many other drivers are familiar with, and for the three of us it was brand new, so we were always behind the eight ball. The team did a great job as always and got us back on track and we were able to get up to speed. Elton had a great start to the race but then he had to go off track to avoid getting hit by our sister car and once you get pick up on your tires it takes many laps to recover. Everybody did a great job but unfortunately we had an electrical issue towards the end of the race and that kept us from fighting to recover positions and get in the top ten.
So overall a tough weekend, not what we wanted, but we are challenging for a top spot in the championship and you have to just pick up as many points as possible and go on to the next race. I have no doubt that we’ll be stronger in Brazil and that we’ll be back fighting at the front.”
Elton Julian: “It was a disappointing result for us, considering that we thought that we come through our problems and were approaching the race with confidence, but that is racing. We will be stronger in Brazil. I would like to offer my condolences to Ricardo and his family”
Nissan Zytek ZN11SN – Car #42 – Alex Brundle, Martin Brundle, Lucas Ordonez
Qualifying 1st – 1:49.964
Race 5th – fastest lap 1:50.732
Alex Brundle: “We were almost a victim of our own success at the start. It’s good to start on pole up there with the LM P1 cars but to then have one spin in front of you it negates all of your effort. We fought hard to get back through the pack and I made it up to ninth by the end of my first single stint so we were more than ready for the fightback.”
Lucas Ordonez: “Everything felt great when I jumped in the car, I got into a good rhythm straight away but after about 10 laps I came across the bollard, right on the racing line so I couldn’t avoid it. It got stuck under the car and believe me that really messes up your aero. It also put our pit stops out of sync but I got back down to business and stayed out until the first safety car period.”
Martin Brundle: “That was the race that could have been. We were quick enough to win but when you have four separate issues it is hard to recover. We had Alex’s incident at the start, then Lucas’ bollard. Lucas was also hit from behind and I got a stop-go. That was a strange one as it happened at the restart and it was an AM-class Aston Martin that just didn’t get going and looked like he was pulling off so I passed him and got a penalty for it. I think without those dramas we could have won comfortably here.”
Greaves Motorsport Team Manager, Jacob Greaves: “It would be an understatement to say that we did not get the result that we expected or even deserved, but that is motor racing. Our combination of Nissan engines, Zytek chassis and Dunlop tyres had the pace to beat the very strong opposition in LM P2. We did not take advantage of this situation but we will pick ourselves up and come back stronger.”