European Le Mans Series : Pole position and 100% Ligier JS P320 podium in Barcelona

On 13 and 14 April, the European Le Mans Series launched its 2024 season on the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit. Eight Ligier JS P320s were entered for this opening round, and they shone! The JS P320s dominated the LMP3 field throughout the weekend, setting the fastest times in free practice (#17 COOL Racing then #8 Team Virage), pole position (#17 COOL Racing) and the all-Ligier podium (#8 Team Virage, #17 COOL Racing and #11 Eurointernational).

- On Friday 12 April, the #17 Ligier JS P320 of reigning champions COOL Racing led the free practice session with Manuel Espirito Santo setting a lap of 1:35.045.

- The following day, Team Virage's #8 JS P320 dominated the second free practice session with a lap of 1:36.475 by Gillian Henrion.

- Later in the afternoon, Manuel Espirito Santo took pole position for the first round of the European Le Mans Series with a lap of 1:34.761 in the #17 COOL Racing Ligier JS P320.

- The 4 Hours of Barcelona got underway on Sunday morning under the Catalan sunshine of the Barcelona circuit.

- Right from the start, the battle raged between the pole position car, the #17 COOL Racing and the #8 Team Virage, which took the lead in the opening laps of the race and held it until the chequered flag.

- The crew of the #8 car, made up of Julien Gerbi, Bernardo Pinheiro and Gillian Henrion, drove a faultless race till the victory in this opening round. It was a first for the team and the drivers.

- It was indeed Team Virage's first victory and first podium finish in the ELMS.

- The 2022 Ligier European Series champion (#16 Team Virage Ligier JS P4) and 2023 Michelin Le Mans Cup champion (#16 Team Virage Ligier JS P320), Gillian Henrion, took victory in his first European Le Mans Series race.

- Bernardo Pinheiro, also from the Ligier European Series (runner-up in 2022 with the #60 Team Virage Ligier JS P4), also scored his first win on his ELMS debut.

- The #17 COOL Racing car (Miguel Cristóvão / Cédric Oltramare* / Manuel Espirito Santo) finished second, followed by the #11 Eurointernational car (Matt Bell / Adam Ali) in third.

- The Ligier JS P320s occupy now the top four places in the provisional LMP3 standings.

* Ligier European Series driver in 2021 and 2022 in the #17 COOL Racing Ligier JS2 R.

Julien Gerbi, Team Virage, #7 Ligier JS P320, winner of the 4 Hours of Barcelona, LMP3: “It's a good start to the season for Team Virage because we've been in the ELMS for several years but we've never won a podium so this year we really need to perform well. This win is a good sign!”

Bernardo Pinheiro, #7 Ligier JS P320, winner of the 4 Hours of Barcelona, LMP3: “My stint was quite challenging, with lots of traffic and tyre economy. It was my first race in the ELMS so I tried to make the most of it and learn as much as I could. I knew the circuit because I drove there last year in the Ligier European Series, so that helped me even if with the temperatures today it was difficult.”

Gillian Henrion, #7 Ligier JS P320, winner of the 4 Hours of Barcelona, LMP3: “I'm very happy, it wasn't an easy race! My two team-mates put in some great stints and I just had to finish the job, manage the traffic and the tyre wear. With Bernardo, we both come from the Ligier European Series and today we're winning in the ELMS, which just goes to show that the endurance pyramid is working.”

The next European Le Mans Series race takes place on 4 and 5 May at the Paul Ricard circuit in France.

For the full results, CLICK HERE.

For more information on the championship, CLICK HERE.

To find out more about the Ligier JS P320, CLICK HERE