Greaves Motorsport scored an incident riddled fifth place today in the 6 hours of Bahrain, the sixth round of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship. Driving the team’s Nissan powered Zytek LM P2 prototype, the driver line up of Christian Zugel, Ricardo Gonzalez and Elton Julian, battled with adversity to produce, considering the prevailing circumstances, a great result.
With temperatures at around the 100° Fahrenheit mark and humidity above 50% the weather was as great a challenge to the team as the other competitors. Thus making the race a classic endurance contest rather than a sprint event. The team formulated a strategy to maximise their potential, taking into account the prevailing conditions and approached the starting grid with a quiet confidence. As with most plans events overtook the scheme almost from the green light. Christian qualified the car on Friday and therefore took the opening stints. On lap five he was forced to avoid a spinning car and ran over a kerb, causing an unscheduled stop to repair damage to the floor and skid plank.
This racing incident undermined the team’s race strategy, but first Christian, and then Elton, got their heads down and drove the car up the car up through the pack. Ricardo climbed on board and continued the good work but then was forced off the track by Ferrari #71 and into the barriers. The driver of the Ferrari, Olivier Beretta, was subsequently excluded from the race by the Stewards of the Meeting. Ricardo managed to get the car back to the pits and the team set to and repaired the damage in a very short time, attracting very favourable comments from outside observers. Elton then returned to the track and pushed hard in the dark to take the Chequered Flag, to take the team’s sixth consecutive finish in the points in the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship.
After the race, The Stewards of the Meeting issued the following Decision.
“The Stewards, with the assistance of the Driver Adviser, after hearing the 2 drivers with their team managers and seeing the video with them decide that the behaviour on the track of Mr. Beretta was deemed very dangerous driving, therefore the Stewards decide the following penalty – exclusion of the driver Olivier Beretta from the race.”
The result maintains Greaves Motorsports’ fourth position in the LM P2 Team Classification in the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship. The next round of the Championship will be held in Fuji, Japan on 14th October.
Christian Zugel: “This weekend has brought yet another new experience in my racing career, I qualified the car for the first time. It was part of a strategy that the team had developed together with the drivers. My business life is built on careful analysis and strategic planning so it is especially satisfying to bring those elements to the race track. The fact that the plans were frustrated almost from the beginning also reflects the real world. The team did a fantastic job all weekend in the most difficult of conditions with the heat and humidity. Then in the race they performed to an even higher level, first in repairing the damage caused in my incident and then getting Elton back on track after the incident involving Ricardo. I would like to thank them for the awesome job they did. I would like to also thank Ricardo and Elton for their great drives, we are still fighting for third position in the LM P2 Team’s Championship and will keep pushing all the way to the last lap in China.”
Ricardo Gonzalez: “It was a difficult race for us but, as always, the team did a great job and came through with very quick repairs that kept us in the game and gave us another good points’ day.
What Beretta did was very dangerous, taking somebody out on the straight is not acceptable and luckily nobody got hurt. I think the Officials made the right call, excluding him, and I hope that this changes his driving in the future.”
Elton Julian: “It was a very tough race both on and off the track. The conditions were extreme and pushed the whole the team to the limit. So considering that we were involved in, not one, but two incidents not of our making, the final result was not too bad. We still scored points, now six times in a row, and maintained our challenge in the Championship. Christian and Ricardo did a great job, as did the guys in the team. I am looking forward to the next round in Fuji.”
Car owner, Mme. Renate Ojjeh: “I would like to congratulate the team on the very professional job they did in such difficult circumstances. Repairing the car in the way they did proves that races are won both on and off the track. To finish in the points once again is very satisfying. I would like also to thank our hosts, Bahrain International Circuit, who made us feel so welcome. It is a world class facility in every respect.”
Team Manager, Jacob Greaves: “We knew that the race in Bahrain would produce some special challenges and we pooled our experience to formulate a strategy that would optimise our strengths. Of course racing is unpredictable so this plan had to be adapted almost from the start but the final result proves that the team can be flexible and still achieve the objectives. The combination of Nissan engines, Zytek chassis and Dunlop tyres is one that allows the team to finish well every time we compete at a race. We are confident that we can maintain this run of points scoring finishes in Japan.”