Ligier European Series : A clean sweep for HP Racing by Monza Garage, Orhès Racing and M Racing at loggerheads
June 4-5, 2021 - Three weeks after the Red Bull Ring meeting, the Ligier European Series field met in the south of France at the Circuit Paul Ricard, Le Castellet. The #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage Ligier JS P4 had a very smooth weekend setting the fastest time in free practice, taking two pole positions and winning two races in its category. In the Ligier JS2 R class, the #24 Orhes Racing car won the first race while the #53 M Racing car won the second one.
On Friday morning, the #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage Ligier JS P4 driven by Jacopo Faccioni and Alessandro Cicognani set the fastest time in free practice with a lap of 2:03.866s, more than a second ahead of the #33 Les Deux Arbres car driven by Jacques Nicolet. In the GT category, it was the #24 of Orhès Racing driven by Mathieu Martins and Olivier Pernaut that took the lead in 2:06.997s, two seconds ahead of the #53 M Racing driven by Natan Bihel.
The drivers were in good form for the afternoon qualifying session as they scored not one but two double pole positions! In the Ligier JS P4 class, it was the #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage car that clocked the two fastest times: 2:03.887s during the first session with Jacopo Faccioni and 2:04.140s during the second session with Alessandro Cicognani. On the GT side, the #53 M Racing Ligier JS2 R came back strongly with a best time of 2:07.165s in session one, improved to 2:07.067s in session two.
The serious business began on Saturday morning with the first race of the day. The #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage Ligier JS P4 continued its winning ways. Starting from pole position, it briefly lost the lead during the mandatory pit stop period but passed the chequered flag in first position. Jacopo Faccioni set the fastest lap in 2:04.917s. The two Les Deux Arbres cars, the #33 of Jacques Nicolet and the #34 of Nelson, fought for second place. After a contact and a spin for the #33, the #34 took the second place ahead of its sister car.
In the Ligier JS2 R category, the #24 Orhès Racing car made a very good start and overtook the #53 polesitter. The duel was close between the two rival cars, which passed each other several times during the race. But it was finally the #24 that took the lead after the mandatory pit stop and set the fastest lap in the category in 2:07.917s with Mathieu Martins at the wheel. Its second win of the season! COOL Racing's #4 car driven by Cédric Oltramare clinched its first podium of the season after crossing the finishing line third. A promising result obtained after a battle with the #69 of M Racing driven by Laurent Millara and the #95 of CTF Performance with Nicolas Beraud and Fabien Delaplace.
The start of the second race was given shortly before 3pm. While the #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage Ligier JS P4 started from pole position, the two Les Deux Arbres Ligier JS P4s started from the back of the grid, a penalty for not having respected the pit lane procedure during the second qualifying session. Although the #33 and #34 moved up in the overall standings, they were no match for the #23 which won the second race of the weekend. Jacopo Facioni was again the fastest in the category with his lap of 2:05.016s. The #33 this time got the better of the #34 and came home second.
On the GT side, the battle between the #53 M Racing Ligier JS2 R and the #24 Orhès Racing car continued to rage. After taking the lead from the #53, the #24received a drive-through penalty for going off the track limits. The #53 recovered first place, but lost it after the mandatory pit stop. With twenty minutes to go, it was the #4 COOL Racing that was leading the race. But Natan Bihel was determined to win. He did not spare his attacks on Cédric Oltramare and after several laps, contact occurred and the #4 car spined.
The #24 Orhès Racing Ligier JS2 R chased down the #53 M Racing car until Olivier Pernaut found himself side by side with Natan Bihel. The two cars made contact and the #24 prevailed over the #53. A few minutes before the chequered flag, the #24 was again penalised with a drive through for going off the track limits. A drive through that she could not execute and which was converted in a 30 second time penalty. Although she crossed the finishing line in first place, she was demoted to fourth place. The #53 narrowly won, ahead of the #4 COOL Racing and the #69 M Racing driven by Laurent Millara. Despite its fourth place, the #24 of Orhès Racing recorded the fastest lap in race again in 2:07.179s with Mathieu Martins at the controls.
The next Ligier European Series Heat will take place at the Autodromo di Monza in Italy on July 9-10.
To read the full article on Free Practice, CLICK HERE.
To read the full article on Qualifying, CLICK HERE.
To read the full article on Race 1, CLICK HERE.
To read the full article on Race 2, CLICK HERE.
Photo credit: DPPI Images