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G-Drive, SMP Set for LMP2 Title Showdown in Brazil

Russian-backed squads battle for FIA WEC LMP2 title in Sao Paulo…

Photo: DPPI/Onroak Automotive

Photo: DPPI/Onroak Automotive

With the drivers’ titles already decided in the four other categories, all eyes will be on LMP2 this weekend in Brazil, as a pair of Russian-backed entries battle for championship honors in the FIA WEC.

Following a roller-coaster enduro in Bahrain, G-Drive Racing heads into Sunday’s title-deciding Six Hours of Sao Paulo with a narrow eight-point lead over SMP Racing and driver Sergey Zlobin.

It came after a points swing in the Middle East when Zlobin’s No. 27 Oreca 03R Nissan retired in the final hour due to gearbox failure, handing the G-Drive Ligier JS P2 Nissan of Olivier Pla, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal the championship lead despite encountering problems of its own in the race but managing to finish fourth in class.

While having an impressive four class wins and six poles out of seven races to date, the OAK Racing-run G-Drive squad have been on a recovery run since its DNF at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a race that SMP’s Zlobin scored maximum points.

SMP, meanwhile, is still searching for its maiden class victory following an eventful previous two outings that showed improved pace with its Michelin-shod prototypes.

For Pla, Rusinov and Canal, the objective is simple this weekend: a class win or runner-up finish would give them the championship, no matter where the SMP entry of Zlobin, Nic Minassian and Maurizio Mediani finishes.

Additionally, G-Drive can still take home the title if they finish third or fourth in class, provided the No. 27 car does not win.

“It’s obviously the most comfortable position to be in, but as we saw in the last round anything can happen until the flag falls,” Pla said. “We have to stay concentrated right till the end to have a fault-free race and win the LMP2 title.”

Aiding G-Drive’s title charge is the season-low four-car entry in LMP2, due to the late withdrawal of Strakka Racing’s Strakka-Dome S103 Nissan, which was slated to make its debut in Brazil.

Nonetheless, a championship is still up for grabs and will unlikely go down without a fight.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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