NISSAN’S RUSSIAN EVOLUTION
G-Drive Racing storms to third win in 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship Mark Shulzhitskiy makes LM P2 debut in Shanghai
The G-Drive Racing squad of Roman Rusinov, Mike Conway and John Martin executed another textbook victory today, winning the 6 Hours of Shanghai, the penultimate round of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship.
The Russian-entered No.26 Oreca-Nissan started the race from pole position in the hands of John Martin. It was looking like a cruise to the flag but Oak Racing had other ideas, mounting a major challenge later in the race that left the G-Drive car fighting for every inch of race track with the No.24 Oak Racing Morgan-Nissan. The car was also delayed with bodywork damage after taking a hit from a GT car.
All three drivers of the G-Drive Oreca-Nissan performed brilliantly today and took a well-deserved victory after six hours of hard racing in Shanghai.
"We are very happy to take a third win for the G-Drive Racing,” said Rusinov. “It was quite a difficult race; we really pushed hard and had to take a few risks. A Porsche hit Mike (Conway), which caused quite a lot of damage to the left rear corner. We were losing a lot of time in the pits to repair the bodywork and then we had to jump back into the fight. The whole team did a great job today and we’re all really looking forward to another good fight in Bahrain."
Despite the race being in China it had a strong Russian theme for Nissan. In addition to the G-Drive Racing victory, Nissan’s Mark Shulzhitskiy was making his LM P2 debut in Shanghai.
Once a winner of GT Academy becomes a Nismo Athlete they are constantly evolving as they are pushed to race in multiple categories, extending their skills and knowledge at a rapid rate. Driving for the Greaves Motorsport team that has run previous GT Academy winners, Mark only completed a handful of laps in the race car at Snetterton before jumping in at the deep end and competing in a world championship race on his LM P2 debut. His performance impressed team boss Jacob Greaves who said:
“Mark drove very well on his first race in a prototype, a tribute to the ability of GT Academy to find new and exciting talent.”
The 24 year-old winner of the 2012 GT Academy Russia powered by G-Drive finished the 6 Hours of Shanghai fifth in class, along with his team-mates Bjorn Wirdheim and Eric Lux.
“Shanghai was a great opportunity for me,” said Schulzhitskiy. “I’ve wanted to drive one of these cars for a long time. It is not so easy to drive the car but I love it! Bjorn (Wirdheim) taught me a lot this weekend and I was able to improve each time I went out on the track. I would really like to do more racing like this in the future, especially at this level, as it is a great experience to race in a world championship, in a car like this.
“We had a few problems in the race,” he continued. “We struggled a little with set up and then we had a problem with water temperature and the extra time in the pits meant that we lost fourth place. This has been an amazing season for me to go from a GT4 car in January to LM P2 in November. It felt great to be able to move up step by step.”
“It’s getting difficult to not sound like a stuck record as yet again GT Academy has discovered an exciting young talent,” said Nissan’s Director of Global Motorsport, Darren Cox. “It’s a pleasure to be in a position where, using the Nismo Global Driver Exchange, we can give these opportunities to our GT Academy winners. The best part is that every time we give them the opportunity to shine they do exactly that. Top man Mark.”