With only three seasons of junior single seater experience behind him, Rui decided to make the leap to the World of Endurance Racing in an LMP2 car. The 2021 Asian Le Mans series featuring a record grid of 36 cars in three classes, with a condensed calendar of four 4-hour races in two weeks presented Rui with numerous challenges. Coming from Euroformula-Open, the 21-year old rookie had to learn how to deal with the traffic on track and how to stay consistent during a 1h 30 minute stint – having only experienced 35 minute-long races beforehand.
Rui stepped up and rose to the challenge with extreme maturity and determination, flourishing in his new environment and producing some stunning lap times.
The season was off to a great start in Dubai for the #25 G-Drive racing squad after his teammate took pole position for both races, even though technical issues and a badly timed full course yellow took away their chances to convert the pole positions into victories. That didn’t stop Rui from showing what he is capable of, the young Angolan found himself up against professionals like ex-F1 driver and 2020 Formula E vice-champion Stoffel Vandoorne, and didn’t just endure the pressure, but, started a charge for the podium, passing two cars to take second place.
The Asian Le Mans series season finished last weekend at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. Race 1 for Rui was again thwarted by bad luck and technical issues, but his team still managed to make the most out of the situation and brought the car home in third place.
The Visit Angola ambassador produced a fine display of his skills in the season finale, leading the race at the halfway point, setting fastest laps whilst under immense pressure from behind. Although a drive-through penalty took away their chances to claim the win, the #25 squad still ended the season on a high, scoring their third consecutive podium finish in P2.
‘’If you’d have told me a month ago that I will stand on the podium at the Yas Marina F1 Circuit in an international race, I wouldn’t have believed it. As soon as we arrived in Dubai, I felt comfortable in the car, and more confident than ever before. G-Drive Racing by APR gave me everything I needed for a successful debut in LMP2, and my teammates did a fantastic job in the car. I’m very proud of the performance we were able to produce over these two race weekends. 3 podiums, 3 pole positions in 4 races is a great way to start a new and exciting challenge in my career. I can’t wait for the next challenge and also want to thank my Management for all the preparation and advice I have received. Roll on 2021…’’
Rui’s 2021 programme will be announced in the coming weeks.