ELMS Spa: G-Drive ORECA drivers secure title despite Vergne penalty

G-Drive ORECA pair Roman Rusinov and Antonio Pizzitola secured the European Le Mans Series title with a round to spare despite a nightmare race at Spa

ELMS Spa: G-Drive ORECA drivers secure title despite Vergne penalty

The duo, driving with part-time team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne this weekend, secured the championship despite finishing outside the top 10 and the car incurring a two-minute stop/go penalty that it could not serve.

While Rusinov did not drive after the race was abandoned due to poor weather conditions just after the half-way mark in the four-hour event, Pizzitola struggled for pace and was lucky to escape two trips to the Campus gravel trap on two consecutive laps.

To compound the G-Drive crew's problems, Vergne later received a penalty after forcing off the #77 Proton Porsche while attacking Ryan Cullen's #31 ORECA.

Vergne escaped damage following the incident while the other two machines collided, with both forced into the pits for repairs as a result, but the penalty - which Vergne could not take before the red flag - meant the car finished a lap down and out of the points, which was the #26's first non-score of the season.

But because only half-points were awarded due to the abandonment of the race, which was won by the #22 United Autosports Ligier JSP217, the #24 ORECA of championship rivals Racing Engineering could not take the title fight to the Portimao finale after finishing seventh.

The result also confirmed G-Drive as LMP2 teams champion for the third consecutive season.

"We're surprised to be honest," said Rusinov after the race.

"The race didn't really go how we wanted, but at the end of the day we got enough points to secure the championship, so overall a good day."

A relieved Pizzitola added: "I'm really happy, it was really difficult today.

"But because we've been so good throughout the whole season we've not much more to say and can now enjoy.

"We won this championship and that's the most important thing."

While Vergne missed the opening round of the ELMS season at Le Castellet, where the #26 finished fourth with Alexandre Imperatori subbing for the Frenchman, the Formula E champion has helped the crew win the last three races consecutively, which built a healthy points lead for the crew in the process.

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