Fun in the Italian sun – Jean-Eric Vergne, Roman Rusinov and Andrea Pizzitola took a commanding win for G-Drive Racing in today’s action-packed 4 Hours of Monza.
Round two of the European Le Mans Series had drama and heartbreak throughout, but after a long four hours, it was Russian team G-Drive Racing that claimed the chequered flag – their first win of the ELMS season. Fresh off the back of a win at the FIA World Endurance Championship’s 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, G-Drive have looked strong all weekend, featuring in the top three in every session.
On Saturday, it was Dragonspeed who took pole position, thanks to a 1:35.837 set by Ben Hanley. Duqueine Engineering lined up alongside the American Oreca on the front row of the grid, with eventual winners G-Drive sat in third. LMP3 qualifying was a close-fought battle, the top five qualified within around half a second of each other. Pole in class, however, went the way of Ultimate in the hands of Mathieu and Jean-Baptiste Lahaye, and Francois Heriau, ahead of Paul Ricard polesitters M.Racing YMR and the United Autosports entry of John Falb and Sean Rayhall. In LMGTE, the quickest time was set by the #80 Porsche 911 RSR of EBIMOTORS, ahead of another Porsche in the hands of Gianluca Roda, Giorgio Roda and Gianmaria Bruni for Proton Competition.
Thanks to multiple safety cars and full-course-yellow periods, the race had a somewhat staccato feel to it. Despite that though, we were treated to plenty of excellent race action under the green flag, and by the halfway point, G-Drive had solidified their position at the front. A commanding drive by Jean-Eric Vergne in the final hour saw the TDS-run car finish with an almost thirty second lead over second place finishers TDS Racing. This is Vergne’s third win in as many weeks – he won the Formula E Paris ePrix, followed by the FIA WEC 6 Hours of Spa and now the ELMS 4 Hours of Monza. French team IDEC Sport finished off the podium, with the #28 crew of Paul Lafargue, Paul-Loup Chatin and Memo Rojas finishing third.
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In LMP3, it was last minute drama that allowed American team Eurointernational to take the win. Thanks to contact with the #27 IDEC Sport Ligier JSP217, John Falb’s leading #2 United Autosports Ligier had to pit with a right rear puncture, stripping the team of some much-needed points in their title defence. Kay Van Berlo in the #11 Eurointernational still had to fight for the win, however, until a lack of fuel stopped Martin Hippe’s challenge in the Inter Europol Competition Ligier. That granted second place to Terrence Woodward, Ross Kaiser and James Smith in the #6 360 Racing Ligier, and it wasn’t a total loss for United Autosports as the #3 Ligier of Anthony Wells, Matt Bell and Garret Grist finished in third.
The LMGTE victory went to the Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 of Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin and Aaron Scott. An unchallengeable performance saw the team take the flag more than a minute ahead of second place finishers, Proton Competition. Polesitters Fabio Bambini, Riccardo Pera and Raymond Narac finished third for EBIMOTORS.
Round three of the European Le Mans Series is the 4 Hours of Red Bull Ring in July, however many of the teams will be back on track at the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month.