G-Drive Racing has scored a dominant win in Sunday’s Four Hours of Monza, despite a late-race penalty for the team’s No. 22 Oreca 07 Gibson in an incident-filled second round of the European Le Mans Series season.
Ryo Hirakawa took the Russian-backed entry to a 2.245-second win over the No. 21 DragonSpeed Oreca of Ben Hanley in second, after a late-race pass on the No. 49 High-Class Racing Dallara P217 Gibson of Anders Fjordbach for the runner-up spot.
Hirakawa’s 50-second lead was cut in half after the Japanese driver, along with four other cars, were handed drive-through penalties for not respecting speeds during a previous Full Course Yellow.
The infraction, caused during the race’s second FCY in Hour 2, ultimately didn’t impact overall podium in LMP2, although Hirakawa lost more than 30 seconds in the closing laps to Hanley due to a suspected issue for the Oreca.
Hirakawa shared the winning G-Drive entry with Leo Roussel and Memo Rojas, marking the Mexican driver’s first ELMS win.
A fuel-only stop for Fjordbach with ten minutes to go ultimately denied the Danish team a runner-up finish, although Fjordbach and Dennis Andersen claimed their second consecutive podium result.
The pole-sitting No. 39 Graff Racing Oreca came home fourth, with trouble for the No. 25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JS P217 Gibson, which stopped on track on the final lap, giving the No. 47 Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara of Andrea Belicchi a top-five result.
Filipe Albuquerque, meanwhile, brought home the No. 32 United Autosports Ligier in sixth, after an up-and-down day for the Anglo-American squad.
M. Racing – YMR scored a 1-2 finish in LMP3, giving the Norma M30 Nissan its first win in worldwide competition.
The No. 19 Norma of Erwin Creed crossed the line 1 lap ahead of the team’s Ligier JS P3 Nissan of Alexandre Cougnard in second, following a late charge by the Ligier.
Creed shared the class-winning Norma with Australian Ricky Capo.
Trouble for the pair of United Autosports Ligiers, including a penalty for Sean Rayhall for contact with another LMP3 car and subsequent gearbox issue, saw the Silverstone class-winning car finish 9th in class.
The No. 17 Ultimate Ligier completed the LMP3 podium in third with Jean-Baptiste Lahaye, Mathieu Lahaye and Francois Heriau.
In the car’s final race, JMW Motorsport broke through to take top class honors in GTE with its Ferrari F458 Italia GT.
The British trio of Jonny Cocker, Rob Smith and Jody Fannin benefited from a race-ending engine issue for the No. 55 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GTE in the third hour to take the class win.
Fannin finished 7.962 seconds ahead of the No. 90 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GTE of Euan Hankey in second, with the No. 99 Beechdean AMR entry completing the class podium in third.
The Jim McWhirter-led JMW squad upgrades to the Ferrari 488 GTE beginning with next month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Sunday’s ELMS race was again marred by multiple incidents involving LMP3 cars, which caused all three of the FCYs in the four-hour race.
RESULTS: 4H Monza