Saturday, July 20, 2024

Roman Rusinov, G-Drive Racing expand into rally raid

Roman Rusinov might be known for his prowess in LMP2 cars, but is now trying his hand at piloting a Can-Am Maverick X3. In mid-April, he and his G-Drive Racing team made their rally raid débuts at the Russian Rally-Raid Championship‘s Gold of Kagan Baja, where he finished eighth in the T3 category. The start was intended to help him prepare for the Silk Way Rally in July.

“I have wanted to try my hand at rally raids for a long time, so I am glad that G-Drive Racing has opened up new horizons,” said Rusinov. “The team is setting new goals and challenges both in terms of developing motorsport in the country and in terms of improving the performance of G-Drive fuel. Rally raids, like endurance races, are an excellent testing ground for fuel testing in the most extreme conditions.”

Rusinov was one of the top drivers in LMP2, winning the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship and 2018 European Le Mans Series titles in the class and scoring a pair of podiums at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. However, he and G-Drive Racing withdrew from the 2022 World Endurance Championship after he rejected the FIA’s policy enacted in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which stipulated Russian and Belarusian competitors must condemn the war and agree to compete without their countries’ emblems. The team had hoped to return to WEC for a single season to celebrate their ten-year anniversary.

With no international racing options, he returned to Russia and mainly participated in various motoring events while promoting G-Drive, a brand of fuel owned by Gazprom Neft. Gazprom, a state-owned energy producer, is also the title sponsor of rally raid truck powerhouse KAMAZ-master.

In March, he tested an SSV alongside Dakar Rally veteran and G-Drive ambassador Anastasiya Nifontova ahead of the Gold of Kagan. Nifontova will also race for G-Drive Racing at the Silk Way Rally.

“I liked my début in rally raids—it was not easy, but still interesting,” Rusinov continued. “We considered the performance at the Gold of Kagan Baja as preparation for the Silk Way Rally, and in this regard, the last Baja turned out to be very useful: we were able to test the vehicle, confirm the high performance of G-Drive fuel, and work out many aspects in terms of crew work. As the Baja went along, we sped up and showed a very decent pace on the last day. Even the fact that we encountered a number of technical problems is a useful experience. Now, having collected a large amount of information, we will prepare for the Silk Way Rally, the main rally raid start of the G-Drive Racing team this season.”

The Silk Way Rally, when not used as a front for Russian military and foreign affairs, is the country’s premier rally raid. The 2023 edition will take place on 5–15 July.

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