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Stevens joins G-Drive for Le Mans after Berthon departure

Ex-Formula 1 driver Will Stevens will race for G-Drive Racing at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans after the Russian team parted company with Nathanael Berthon.

Berthon made his debut with G-Drive at Silverstone in April as part of the three-man crew in the no. 26 ORECA-Nissan LMP2 car, racing alongside Rene Rast and Roman Rusinov.

The trio finished third in the FIA World Endurance Championship season-opener at Silverstone before recording a fifth-place finish at the 6 Hours of Spa at the beginning of May.

However, G-Drive announced on Thursday that Berthon had left the team with immediate effect, just days before the first test for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“I would like to thank Nathanaël for his efforts with the team in 2016,” G-Drive Racing’s David Clark said in a short statement.

“We achieved two solid results in the first races at Silverstone and Spa and he showed he can be part of a front running team and we wish him every success in the future.”

G-Drive followed this up with a statement confirming Stevens’ arrival, stressing that the Briton will return to Manor for the remainder of the FIA WEC season after Le Mans.

“The offer to join G-Drive specifically for Le Mans and share the car with Rene and Roman was compelling,” Stevens said.

“My partnership with Rene at WRT Audi is working well and with his and Roman’s experience in this race, it offered me a race winning opportunity which I’m pleased to accept.

“I’m grateful to the Manor WEC Team for releasing me for this occasion and we will continue to work together for the remainder of their first season in endurance racing.

“I’m very much looking forward to my first 24-hour race within this line-up and am very grateful to G-Drive for the opportunity.

“I’m enjoying the whole endurance racing scene and no doubt my first Le Mans will be a special event in my career.”

Having only entered one car for Le Mans, Manor confirmed that it would be drafting Roberto Merhi in to replace Stevens in its no. 44 entry. Merhi will race alongside Matt Rao and Tor Graves.

“I am very excited to be taking part in this great race that has so much history,” the Spaniard said.

“I am really looking forward to racing with Matt and Tor and seeing what we can achieve together.

“I would like to thank the team for this amazing opportunity.”

Follow @LukeSmithF1