Sam earns LMP2 podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for G-Drive Racing
A consistently skilful performance across the whole of the gruelling 24 Hours of Le Mans saw Sam and his team-mates Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal rewarded with third place in the LMP2 category of the classic race.
They brought home the #26 G-Drive Racing Ligier JS P2 several laps ahead of their colleagues in the #28 car for a 3-4 finish that earned valuable points in the FIA World Endurance Championship standings.
In a race disrupted by three safety cars and countless yellow flags and slow zones, the two G-Drive Racing cars kept clear of the main incidents from start to finish.
The weather through most of the 24hrs was favourable, starting warm and bright with only about 30 minutes of light rain on Sunday morning, and the race got off to a very clean start with no incidents for the first hour.
Sam had qualified the #26 strongly and took the start for the team, but slipped back in the initial shuffle before recovering steadily to third. He held the place until his pitstop and driver change-over, but a small fuel fire delayed the car and cost several places.
He returned to the car later in the day with his team-mates having held seventh place, and a strong fight-back helped him recover to third by sundown. A retirement ahead took him into second place and the team worked on tracking the class-leading #47 KCMG Oreca 05.
Two mistakes by the #47 gave hope of catching up but the lead was too great and, late in the race, differing pitstop strategies allowed the hard-charging #38 Jota Sport Gibson to relegate the #26 to third.
For G-Drive, the result meant important points in the FIA WEC battle and a pleasing podium. Team Principal Philippe Dumas said: "I'm obviously torn between the disappointment of not winning this unique race that everyone wants to win, and a really good overall result.
"Le Mans is Le Mans and to get to the end is an exploit in itself. Third and fourth in class translates to second and third in the WEC LMP2 classification, and we have to be satisfied with this result. We also need to congratulate our rivals."
Speaking immediately after the race, Sam said: “So we’ve just finished the 24 Hour Le Mans race, and I’ve got to say that it’s probably the hardest race I’ve ever taken part in.
"The boys and girls at G-Drive Racing, and everybody here, did a really good job - they’re faultless. They made sure the cars were immaculate all week and fast. Just not fast enough in a straight line unfortunately for this event, but it’s a long championship and a podium is an amazing achievement here. So congratulations to everybody."