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TDS, Graff to Run G-Drive Cars; Rusinov Lineup Receives Dispensation

Graff Racing, TDS Racing to operate G-Drive Racing entries in European Le Mans Series…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Graff Racing will take over operations of G-Drive Racing, which expands into a two-car LMP2 effort in the European Le Mans Series this year alongside the returning TDS Racing-run entry, also under the same banner.

The Russian-backed organization, which won the LMP2 championship with Leo Roussel, Memo Rojas and DragonSpeed in 2017, will defend its title with Roman Rusinov at the wheel of the TDS-run Oreca 07 Gibson.

TDS operated G-Drive’s FIA World Endurance Championship-entered car last year, which moves to full-time ELMS competition.

Rusinov will be joined by Jean-Eric Vergne and TDS regular Matthieu Vaxiviere, effectively creating an all-pro driver lineup, by the FIA driver ratings, in the pro-am enforced class.

It is one of two ELMS entries to have received “temporary dispensation” from the ACO that allows adjusted lineups on a case-by-case basis.

Both Rusinov and Vaxviere are Gold rated, while Vergne is Platinum. LMP2 requires at least one Bronze or Silver-rated driver per lineup.

The other exception made is the No. 8 DKR Engineering Norma M30 Nissan, which features the Silver pairing of Alexander Toril and Jean Glorieux, in a class that typically requires at least one Bronze-rated driver.

G-Drive’s second Oreca, to be run by Graff, will be driven by Jose Gutierrez, James Allen and Enzo Guibbert, in a more traditional pro-am lineup.

Graff is the sixth LMP2 team to partner with G-Drive in the last six years, with TDS and DragonSpeed the two most recent outfits last year, in the WEC and ELMS, respectively.

It’s understood Rusinov will not return to WEC competition this season, with the Russian businessman to focus his driving efforts exclusively on the ELMS and 24 Hours of Le Mans. 

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Binky

    February 8, 2018 at 5:39 pm

    Has there ever been an explanation for why Rusinov takes his Gazprom money to a different team almost every year?

    Is he trying to gain influence with all team owners so that when something like this drops, they’re less inclined to protest? After all, he could be bringing his cash to them next time.

    • Ug-Min Lahk

      February 9, 2018 at 11:37 am

      Rusinov keeps changing teams because of his character, apparently. In the last few years, his relationship with every team degrades during the year to a point they don’t feel like working together anymore. So he kept changing teams every year, but he brings lots of money, so he will always find out someone who accepts the challenge.

  2. thomas

    February 9, 2018 at 12:51 am

    Rusinov is the definition of an amateur. As he doesn’t take a pay cheque from racing I think his classification should be limited to silver as he is paying for all of it

    • Gonçalo Santos

      February 9, 2018 at 2:41 am

      Sure why not. He just has a lot of experience with LMP2 cars and was on the verge of driving a Midland Toyota F1 car. Silver seems just right…

      • Hawkwood

        February 9, 2018 at 2:05 pm

        Yep, silver seems exactly right.
        Just because he almost once drove and F1 a decade ago doesn’t mean he’s a pro-driver.
        He’s hampered simply by being a very good amateur. That’s it. He’s considered too good to be classed as he should be.

        • Bakkster

          February 9, 2018 at 3:27 pm

          Then the ratings system is broken.

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