Greaves Motorsport celebrated a brace of top ten finishes in the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours. The team’s two Nissan powered Zytek prototypes achieved fifth and eighth places in the highly competitive LM P2 class at the French Endurance Classic in front of a reported crowd of 240,000 spectators.
Car #41 crewed by Christian Zugel, Ricardo Gonzalez and Elton Julian had a mostly trouble free and reliable run to fifth place, covering 348 laps. The sister car #42, driven by Alex Brundle, Martin Brundle and Lucas Ordonez had a few minor issues, such as a broken alternator belt that delayed them by some 20 minutes, enough to ensure that they finished a few places down the order. At the Chequered Flag they had completed 340 laps.
Christian Zugel: “OK, the race was really simple, we agreed to execute a strategy to stay out of the pits and drive a flawless race and this we did. The whole team, the drivers, the crew who were outstanding for the whole week, all did their jobs. That was the easy part, the other aspect, the emotional part is overwhelming. It is my first time here as a driver, it has been a big step to get here and to get this result is fantastic. It still has not really sunk in yet. I would just like to thank everyone on the team who worked so hard to achieve this fantastic result.”
Ricardo Gonzalez: “ For me personally, it is a dream come true, being at Le Mans, not as a spectator, but as a driver, being involved in all the activities that go on around the race during the week. I was privileged to start the race and then as strategy played out I was the driver who finished the race. It really is a dream come true and an experience that I will never forget. I think my driving style suits this track very well, right from the beginning I was the fastest in the car and as I learned the track I got faster and faster and was more in tune with the car. Even though you spend a lot of time here, there are not many laps due to the length of the circuit but I really got comfortable with the car and enjoyed my time behind the wheel. At around 2.00am the sky was completely clear, I could see the stars while driving down the Mulsanne Straight; the trees, the sky and the stars, it was an experience that was both unique and amazing. I think you can only have that experience here, I have heard a lot of drivers talking about this side of Le Mans and I am so happy that I too have experienced this part of the race. The whole week was fantastic, and I must really thank the team for providing a reliable car and my team mates for their part in this great event.”
Elton Julian: “First thing first, for me to come here twice and finish the race both times in points is awesome. We arrived here with a specific plan, it did not look very cool on the timing screens, so people did not really notice us but I understood that this was really the way to move us from point A to point B and it delivered. I think we extracted the maximum from the car, engine and driver package, and I have to thank the team for all their hard work. I would also like to congratulate Christian and Ricardo on their fantastic debuts at Le Mans.”
Martin Brundle: “I really enjoyed that. It was a tough race as we had an alternator belt let go in the early stages and later we were nursing throttle problems. That was a bit scary actually, especially when I went off at the first chicane. I just clipped the barrier and slid along it so luckily it was okay.”
“Would I do it again? Why not? I think I would definitely do it again. I actually drove for longer than the boys and really got into the groove. I realised at the official test day just how competitive LM P2 is this year. If we had the reliability of the sister car we would’ve been cooking on gas and got a podium finish but that’s the way this game goes. I’m over the moon with Al’s performance and genuinely impressed with Lucas. The fantastic thing is that all three of us were well matched on pace. The ‘kids’ have done an amazing job.”
Alex Brundle: “Le Mans was a great experience and a massive event. I am really pleased to have finished the race and really happy to have finished in the top ten in class, I would like to come back next year and am looking forward to the rest of the sportscar races this year.”
Lucas Ordonez: “The race was really hard at the beginning as we had some issues with the car. Once we sorted these the car was really flying. We were running quite highly but lost some positions in the night as we were starting to suffer from a problem with the throttle. I had an off because of this but I was recovered from the gravel and able to get back to the pits. My last stint was great for me and I really enjoyed it as it felt so good in the car. The race was definitely harder than last year as the level of competition is so high. Unfortunately the luck wasn’t with us this time but maybe next time!”
Team Manager, Jacob Greaves: “We are pleased to get both cars to the finish and also in the top ten. We are still in the hunt for the FIA WEC Championship and this result is a good springboard for the rest of the season.The team worked very hard during the whole time here at Le Mans and the combination of Nissan power, Zytek chassis and Dunlop tyres gave us a competitive package to race with. We will approach the rest of the season with confidence of further good results.”
Team Principal, Tim Greaves: “I would like to congratulate the team for the heroic efforts that they put in, rewarded by getting both cars to the finish. I would also like to congratulate all our drivers, who performed very well in very difficult conditions, as shown by the problems encountered by the various factory drivers. A special mention must go to Christian Zugel, Ricardo Gonzalez and Alex Brundle who each competed in their first Le Mans and scored a result, Christian would have got the prize after the race for the happiest man in the pit lane. I would like to thank all our sponsors and partners, especially Nissan, it is your support that makes our race possible. We are looking forward to the rest of the season with confidence of further success.