Roman Rusinov, Andrea Pizzitola, Jean-Eric Vergne celebrate G-Drive Racing’s LMP2 class win.
In LMP2, G-Drive Racing had a dominant run on the way to Le Mans victory; the ORECA piloted by Roman Rusinov, Andrea Pizzitola and Jean-Eric Vergne led almost the entire race and clearly was the class of the field.
“I can’t believe it, the team made no mistakes in two weeks,” Pizzitola said after the race. “Minutes seemed like hours. It was the perfect race. I’m so emotional. We were waiting for a problem, because it’s never like this. It’s crazy.”
In what was a very topsy-turvy race in which many contenders climbed the order and hit trouble, the G-Drive Racing ORECA’s lead only grew, the team scoring its first class win at Le Mans in fine style.
Completing the podium in the class was the No. 36 Signatech Alpine and Graff SO24 ORECA.
The Alpine spent the entire race competing for second and or third, as Andre Negrao, Nicolas Lapierre and Pierre Thiriet were unable to keep tabs with the eventual winners.
The SO24 benefited from trouble hitting the other runners in contention. The car, driven by the Vincent Capillaire, Jonathan Hirschi and Tristan Gommendy, earned a podium place in the final hours of the race.
The car with the least luck this year was Panis Barthez. The French team proved to be the surprise package of the race with its No.23 Ligier driven by Julien Canal Thimothe Buret and Will Stevens. The trio ran as high as second during the race, and looked set for a big result for not only the team, but for Ligier and its tire supplier Michelin.
Mechanical woes cost them dearly and on Sunday morning the team’s car spent a long time in the garage, and eventually came home a lowly 11th in class.
Off the podium, completing the top five was the No.28 TDS Racing ORECA, which fought hard in the final hour to catch and pass the leading Graff car. Loic Duval, Francois Perrodo and Mathieu Vaxiviere will go home disappointed, after spending much of the race looking capable of a podium finish.
The fifth-place car was the sole remaining United Autosports Ligier JS P217 by the end of the race. The No.32 crew of Will Owen, Hugo de Sadeleer and “rookie” Juan Pablo Montoya will also go home wondering what could have been.
In the end, the team was the highest-finishing Ligier, but the team would have finished on the podium had it not suffered an issue with the car’s radio system (costing it seven minutes in the pits), had a run into the tires at Indianapolis during one of Montoya’s stints and suffered a puncture while in pursuit of third in the penultimate hour.