G-Drive Racing moved to the top of the European Le Mans Series LMP2 standings by winning the second round of the season at Monza.
Norman Nato, Roman Rusinov and Job van Uitert commanded much of the four-hour race to claim victory in the No. 26 Oreca-based Aurus 01 Gibson from second on the grid.
Nato took the checkered flag 2.1 seconds ahead of Paul-Loup Chatin in the No. 28 IDEC Sport Oreca 07 Gibson to give the G-Drive outfit its third consecutive victory at Monza after triumphs in 2017 and 2018.
Chatin had been chasing Nato throughout the final stint after making a move on the No. 32 United Autosports Ligier JS P217 Gibson of Alex Brundle into Pararbolica with half an hour remaining, but couldn’t get close enough to make a pass on the No. 26.
The IDEC Sport car, which was also driven by Paul Lafargue and Memo Rojas, charged through the field after being forced to start from the back of the LMP2 grid for not setting a time in qualifying.
The top three entries were bunched together in the second hour by a safety car period after the No. 8 Nielsen Racing LMP3 machine crashed out at Ascari.
This eliminated Van Uitert’s 30-second lead over Cullen and enabled Lafargue to close onto the tail of the United Autosports car before the final driver swaps.
Brundle came through to complete the podium with United co-drivers Will Owen and Ryan Cullen, while the Anglo-American squad’s sister Ligier finished fourth.
Graff’s Oreca driven by Tristan Gommendy, Alexandre Cougnaud and Jonathan Hirschi completed the top five at the end, ahead of the Duqueine Engineering Oreca of Richard Bradley, Pierre Ragues and Nico Jamin.
In LMP3, Eurointernational’s Jens Petersen and Mikkel Jensen recovered from 40th on the overall grid to win with their No. 11 Ligier JS P3 Nissan and seize the championship lead.
Problems for some of the key entries, including a pit lane fire for the Oregon Team Norrma M30 Nissan and an accident for the Paul Ricard-winning Ultimate Norma, helped the Eurointernational pairing on their way to victory.
BMW factory driver Jensen crossed the line 23 seconds ahead of Nigel Moore in the Inter Europol Competition Ligier that the Englishman shared with Jakub Smiechowski.
It marked Eurointernational’s second straight Monza win after Giorgio Mondini and Kay van Berlo gave the Italian squad a home-soil victory last year.
Rounding out the LMP3 class podium was the No. 2 United Autosports Ligier driven by Tommy Erdos, Wayne Boyd and Garett Grist.
GTE honors went to the Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR trio of Christian Ried, Riccardo Pera and Matteo Cairoli, ahead of the Ferrari 488 GTEs entered by JMW Motorsport and Luzich Racing.
RESULTS: Four Hours of Monza