Automotive

Russian Withdrawals Cause Reopening Of Le Mans Entries


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Image: G-Drive Racing

Last week the ACO and FIA were all set to announce the 2022 Le Mans 24 entry list, but it was delayed at the last minute. It was no kept secret that the Russians on the entry list would need to be reconsidered, in light of current events. GazProm, the Russian majority state-owned multinational energy corporation, is the main backer of G-drive, and many Russian drivers have been on the squad over the years. This year’s plan was for the team to run with Daniil Kvyat as the lead driver. As of Monday, the team have pulled out of all operations across 2022.

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The FIA requested that all Russian drivers and teams sign a new code of conduct in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As part of the code, drivers and teams must not display any Russian or Belarusian national symbols, colors, or flags, nor express any support for the Russian or Belarusian activities in respect to Ukraine. G-Drive team boss Roman Rusinov released a statement indicating he would “not put my signature on this document” and that he was disappointed team members “won’t compete for GDR” this season.

This means G-Drive has withdrawn its LMP2 entry from the FIA WEC, including Le Mans, as well as two LMP2s and an LMP3 from the European Le Mans Series. A second LMP2 was expected to be entered by the team for the Le Mans 24.

With what was expected to be two high-funding high-profile cars gone from the Le Mans 62-car list, the FIA has decided to re-open the entry process for 48 hours to fill those slots.

It is possible that the cars will continue to race without G-Drive, Rusinov, or Kvyat, however. The full G-Drive operation was run by Algarve Pro Racing from Portugal. APR already had its set of LMP2s in Florida for the pre-season WEC test at Sebring when the decision came down. If the team can come up with sponsorship in time, it could operate the cars sans G-drive.

If you were waiting until the last minute to get your team on the Le Mans 24 entry list, now is your chance. You’ve got until Tuesday night to figure it out.

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