G-Drive withdraws from WEC, Le Mans over FIA’s Russia code of conduct

Russian entrant G-Drive Racing appears to have withdrawn from this year’s World Endurance Championship and the Le Mans 24 Hours.

#26 G-Drive Racing Aurus 02 - Gibson: Roman Rusinov, Franco Colapinto, Nyck de Vries

G-Drive team principal Roman Rusinov has announced on Instagram he is refusing to accept the conditions laid down by the FIA for the participation of Russian competitors in international motorsport following the country’s invasion of Ukraine last month.

Rusinov said in the short statement he would “not put my signature on this document” and expressed disappointment that members of the team “won’t compete for GDR”, adding “we are already looking at different projects to develop motorsports in our country”.

The statement made on Rusinov’s personal Instagram account also outlined a hope that G-Drive “will be able to return to international racing” in the future.

Rusinov could not be contacted to confirm that the team will not be racing at the opening WEC round at Sebring on 18 March with an LMP2 ORECA-Gibson 07 due to be driven by ex-Formula 1 driver Daniil Kvyat, Rene Binder and James Allen.

It is unclear if Rusinov is only referencing the latest FIA rules for the involvement of Russian and Belarus drivers, competitors and officials announced last Tuesday after an extraordinary meeting of its World Motor Sport Council, or if other conditions have been laid down for G-Drive’s participation in the WEC as well as the European Le Mans Series.

#26 G-Drive Racing Raf Aurus 01 - Gibson: Roman Rusinov

#26 G-Drive Racing Raf Aurus 01 - Gibson: Roman Rusinov

Photo by: Erik Junius

The involvement of Rusinov’s team in top-level sportscar racing is further complicated by it title sponsorship: G-Drive is a brand of energy giant Gazprom, which is majority-owned by the Russian state and is facing sanctions around the world.

The FIA’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been to demand that Russian and Belarus competitors “participate in international zone competitions only in their neutral capacity and under the ‘FIA flag’, subject to specific commitment and adherence to the FIA’s principles of peace and political neutrality”.

The statement from Rusinov comes after the delay of the publication of the full 62-car entry list for the Le Mans double-points WEC round in June, which G-Drive was due to contest with two cars.

Its release was pushed back from last Monday for what race organiser and WEC promoter the Automobile Club de l’Ouest described as “administrative reasons” and is now due early this week.

It is understood that the delay was linked to complications arising from G-Drive’s entries, which last year were made under the flag of the Russian Automobile Federation following the World Anti-Doping Agency’s ruling against Russia in 2019.

G-Drive had also entered two ORECAs for the ELMS, one under the banner of G-Drive Racing by Algarve Pro Racing, its technical partner for both programmes.

The full G-Drive ELMS car, which Rusinov was due to share with Sophia Florsch and an as-yet-unnamed third driver, was also entered for Le Mans.

The additional ELMS ORECA to be driven by Allen, Alex Peroni and John Falb is really an APR car and appears likely to maintain its entry under the name of the Anglo-Portuguese team.

G-Drive cars

G-Drive cars

Photo by: G-Drive Racing

Rusinov’s statement on Instagram on Saturday evening in full: “Today, I, the driver of the Russian team G-Drive Racing, refused to accept the discriminatory conditions of the FIA.

“The goal of every athlete is to hear the anthem of his country on the podium.

“In 10 years of international experience our team has done this many times: we raised the Russian flag, we heard and sang the Russian anthem.

“For the sake of my fans, for the sake of my team-mates and sports honour, I will not put my signature on this document. Better not to drive at all.

“The GDR team has always been international: drivers, mechanics, engineers - they are all from different countries of the world. And if we asked everyone to give up their flag, experience and name, such a real sports brotherhood and victories would never have happened.

“It's a pity that these guys won't compete for GDR either.

“Now we are already looking at different projects to develop motorsports in our country.

“I sincerely hope that we will be able to return to international racing, once the sporting spirit and equal conditions for all participants return to it.”

Related video

Previous article “Complicated” Porsche LMDh project facing “uphill battle” – Cindric
Next article Tandy has "mixed feelings" about leaving IMSA for WEC