Vergne to skip ELMS Paul Ricard opener

Formula E points leader Jean-Eric Vergne will skip the opening round of the European Le Mans Series in Paul Ricard due to a clash with the all-electric championship.

Vergne had been expected to contest the entire ELMS campaign with the G-Drive Racing LMP2 team, having been revealed as one of Roman Rusinov's teammates in February.

However, the Rome ePrix, which takes place the day before the ELMS curtain-raiser, will stop Vergne taking part in practice and attending the drivers' briefing at Paul Ricard, meaning he will be unable to race.

Joining Rusinov for Paul Ricard will be Andrea Pizzitola and Alexandre Imperatori, who both tested G-Drive's TDS Racing-run Oreca 07 in last month's Dunlop tyre test at Aragon.

Vergne will still join the team for the WEC 6 Hours of Spa in May ahead of the Le Mans 24 Hours.

“We've invited Alexandre and Andrea to the first round of the ELMS at Le Castellet [Paul Ricard]," said team sporting director Rusinov. “This selection was made after a test featuring several potential candidates, where Alexandre and Andrea showed very good speed.

“Jean-Eric will wait until the following race in Spa to make his debut for G-Drive Racing. Because of the Formula E Rome race, he won't be able to attend the drivers' briefing and practice runs for the opening round of the ELMS, and without this the stewards will not permit him to take start in the race."

Imperatori is now understood to be G-Drive's preferred candidate to partner Rusinov and Vergne for Le Mans, although this still needs approval from race organiser the ACO due to Imperatori's gold status.

The team agreed to amend its original ELMS line-up of Vergne, Rusinov and Matthieu Vaxiviere after criticism from other LMP2 team bosses who believed it risked the future of the category.

Pla joins Racing Engineering 

Elsewhere on the ELMS grid, ex-Formula 2 outfit Racing Engineering has announced that sportscar veteran Olivier Pla will join its line-up for its first campaign in endurance racing.

Pla, a member of Ford's WEC GTE Pro squad, joins the previously-confirmed Norman Nato and Paul Petit in the Spanish outfit's Oreca 07.

Additional reporting by Valentin Khorounzhiy

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About this article
Series European Le Mans
Event Paul Ricard
Track Circuit Paul Ricard
Drivers Jean-Eric Vergne
Teams G-Drive Racing
Article type Breaking news