The G-Drive Racing crew of Jean-Eric Vergne, Andrea Pizzitola and Roman Rusinov has taken victory in Round 2 of the European Le Mans Series at Monza.
Vergne commanded the final hour behind the wheel of the No. 26 Oreca 07 Gibson, which started second, to give the TDS-run entry its first ELMS win of the season.
It came after the same trio captured LMP2 class honors in last weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship season-opener at Spa.
The Frenchman pitted for new tires with 32 minutes remaining and emerged from the stops with a gap of around half a minute over Matthieu Vaxiviere in the TDS Racing Oreca.
Vergne then managed the difference to cross the line 29.828 seconds ahead of his compatriot, while Paul Loup Chatin finished third in the No. 28 IDEC Sport Oreca.
Rusinov took the lead in the first hour when pole-sitter Ben Hanley pitted during one of four safety car periods, before Pizzitola controlled the middle portion of the race, only ceding the position during stops.
Hanley, Nicolas Lapierre and Henrik Hedman’s victory challenge in the No. 21 DragonSpeed Oreca was curtailed by a drive-through penalty after Hedman collided with an LMP3 runner.
The crew managed to recover some of the time and a strong finish by Hanley ensured it finished fourth, ahead of Racing Engineering’s Oreca which completed the top five.
Oreca entries filled the top seven positions in the end, with the highest-placed Ligier JS P217 Gibson being the No. 23 Panis Barthez Competition car in eighth.
ELMS debutant Felipe Nasr crossed the line ninth in the best of the Dallara P217 Gibsons entered by Villorba Corse.
The multiple safety car incidents included a heavy crash at the second Lesmo right-hander for the No. 39 Graff Oreca 15 minutes in, followed shortly by an off for the No. 40 G-Drive Oreca at the Ascari chicane just before the end of hour one.
There was then a lengthy cleanup for the fourth and final safety car intervention after the No. 9 AT Racing Ligier JS P3 Nissan hit the stranded No. 18 M. Racing-YMR Ligier at the exit of Lesmo two.
Eurointernational Wins Dramatic LMP3 Finish
Drama ensued in the final 10 minutes of the LMP3 contest, with Kay van Berlo taking the win for the Eurointernational squad.
Van Berlo, who shared the Italian squad’s Ligier JS P3 Nissan with Giorgio Mondini, inherited the lead when John Falb pulled off with a right-rear puncture to the No. 2 United Autosports Ligier.
Brief side-to-side contact with the IDEC Sport LMP2 Ligier at turn one prevented Falb and Sean Rayhall from taking the first win of their class title defense.
Van Berlo’s duel with Martin Hippe in the Inter Europol Competition Ligier then became the fight for the win with two seconds separating the pair, before Hippe ran out of fuel two laps from the end.
Second was picked up by the No. 6 360 Racing Ligier of Ross Kaiser and Terence Woodward.
In GTE, Spirit of Race dominated the final two hours, with Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin and Aaron Scott claiming victory by a minute from the No. 77 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR.
RESULTS: 4H Monza