Le Mans Cup: Gillian Henrion and Julien Gerbi (#16 Team Virage) crowned champions in Portugal

The Michelin Le Mans Cup season finale was held on Sunday, 22 October 2023, at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal. After dominating free practice, the #16 Team Virage Ligier JS P320 took pole position. In a race full of twists and turns, the #7 of Nielsen Racing won ahead of the #2 and #11 from CD Sport. Gillian Henrion, the 2022 JS P4 Ligier European Series Champion, and Julien Gerbi in the #16 Team Virage held on to win the championship.

• On Thursday, 19 October, the #97 COOL Racing Ligier JS P320 (Louis Sanjuan and David Droux) set the pace in free practice 1 with a lap of 1:41.087s. Eight other Ligier JS P320s followed in the classification.

• On Friday, 21 October, #77 of Team Thor (Audunn Gudmundsson and Colin Noble) went top of the timing screen in free practice 2 with a lap of 1:38.864s.

• The following day, the championship-leading #16 from Team Virage (Gillian Henrion and Julien Gerbi) took pole position in a wet qualifying session. Julien Gerbi clocked the best time in 1:56.685s.

• With the track soaking wet, the championship's final round began behind the safety car on Sunday, 22 October. The green flag came out four laps later. The #16 remained in first place ahead of the #11 of CD Sport (Shahan Haig Sarkissian and Franck Chappard) and the #77 from Team Thor. #16 and #11 were locked in a fierce battle for the lead.

• On lap 16, Team Virage suffered a setback. The #16 was hit from behind by a rival and got stuck in the gravel. It returned to the track a few minutes later but was far behind its opposition.

• The #11 of CD Sport was in the lead. Championship contender, the #77 from Team Thor's #77 was fourth.

• The rain came, and the conditions became increasingly hazardous.

• After the pitstops and driver changes, the #87 of COOL Racing (Adrien Chila and Cédric Oltramare) was the new race leader. The #23 from United Autorsports (John Schauerman and Wayne Boyde) was second. The #2 of CD Sport (Fabien Michal and Kirill Smal), another title contender, was third.

• With 45 minutes remaining in the race, the #11 was still in the lead. Nielsen Racing's #7 (Anthony Wells and Josh Skelton) ballted back to run in second place ahead of CD Sport's #2.

• The track became increasingly slick, with one crash after another, requiring several safety car periods.

• Twenty minutes before the chequered flag, the racer was red-flagged due to adverse weather conditions.

• The #11 of CD Sport was penalised 10 seconds for failing to comply with full course yellow conditions and dropped to third place. The #7 of Nielsen Racing inherited the victory, while second place on the podium went to CD Sport's #2.

Team Virage's #16 won the championship ahead of CD Sport's #2 for just four points. It is a superb success for Julien Gerbi and the 2022 JS P4 category champion in the Ligier European Series, Gillian Henrion.

For race results, CLICK HERE.

For the championship results, CLICK HERE.

For more information about the Ligier JS P320, CLICK HERE.