While KCMG scored a dominant class win in Sunday’s Six Hours of Sao Paulo, SMP Racing and Sergey Zlobin have been crowned LMP2 world champions following an incident-filled season finale in Brazil.
Zlobin and co-drivers Nicolas Minassian and Maurizio Mediani wheeled their No. 27 Oreca 03R Nissan to a delayed runner-up finish in the cost-capped prototype class, after the championship-leading G-Drive Racing entry crashed out early.
Olivier Pla was at the wheel of the No. 26 Ligier JS P2 Nissan when it suffered brake failure and made heavy contact with the Turn 1 barriers early in the second hour.
It was day done for Pla and co-drivers Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal, which entered the race with an nine-point lead over Zlobin and the fellow Russian-backed squad.
Pla’s accident handed the race lead to the No. 47 KCMG Oreca 03R Nissan until it lost three laps due to a minor crash by Matt Howson, giving way for the No. 37 SMP entry to take over point.
However, the all-Russian entry ground to a halt on track with two hours and 30 minutes to go, giving the race lead back to the KCMG Oreca-Nissan of Howson, Alexandre Imperatori and Richard Bradley, which cruised to a commanding 18-lap class victory.
It marked the Hong Kong-based squad’s third class win of the year and the only team to deny G-Drive of wins in a regular-season FIA WEC race this year.
Remarkably, the SMP squad earned both the drivers’ and teams’ title without scoring a single class win, but aided by Zlobin scoring maximum points at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a race that saw G-Drive also fail to finish.
It was also Le Mans where Zlobin and his regular season co-drivers were split between the two cars, therefore giving the title solely to the Russian driver.
It marked SMP’s third major sports car racing championship of the year after taking titles in both the GTE and GTC classes of the European Le Mans Series.