The Austrian Grand Prix track with its special microclimate has provided the European Le Mans Series field with everything that’s needed for an exciting race.
Rui, with only six endurance races under his belt, has shown immense progress during the build-up to the race, grabbing every opportunity to learn and improve all the new skills required to be a successful sports car driver and improve in all the areas.
The original line-up of the #25 car has changed since Barcelona, with ex-F1-driver Roberto Merhi joining Rui ad John Falb in the fight for the ELMS Pro-Am title. The qualifying went exceptionally well as Merhi put the #25 Aurus 01 on the second row of the 41-car grid, and second in the Pro-Am ranking.
The Visit Angola Ambassador was the second driver to get into the car, taking over the wheel from Falb. The American had a storming start but unfortunately received a penalty and had to serve a drive-through which dropped them all the way down to P13, handing the wheel to Rui in P11 at around the 1-hour mark.
The LMP2 rookie soon found himself in a three-way battle having to attack and defend at the same time and the Angolan dealt with the pressure in a very mature way by making no mistakes. After a perfectly executed overtake, he moved up to tenth place, bringing the #25 car into the points.
It was Merhi’s turn to bring the car home and the Spanish driver did not disappoint. After the second safety car period which bunched the field up, he carved himself through in the heavy rain up to the overall podium, securing the trio’s first class win of the season. The #25 squad is now leading the PRO-Am championship, and sitting in third place overall.
Rui Andrade: “What a day! We started the race with a drive-through penalty which really stressed everyone out, but in the end thanks to a safety car period and Roberto’s mega job, we managed to secure our first Pro-AM win and overall podium of the year. I’m really thankful to the team for their hard work. The strategy worked out perfectly, they did a perfect job in the pit stops and the pace was there as well. Can’t wait to do it all over again.“
Rui next races in two weeks’ time at Le Castellet in France, for the third round of the 2021 ELMS championship.