ligier european series paul ricard

Ligier European Series: Start of the season under the Castellet sun

16 April 2022 - After weeks of waiting, the 2022 Ligier European Series season has finally begun! With 20 Ligier JS P4s and Ligier JS2 Rs entered, the teams converged at Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet for a first round (practically) dominated by the rookie teams. In the JS P4 category, the #16 of Team Virage scored a brace of wins to go with its two pole positions the day before. In the JS2 R category, RLR MSport and the returning CTF Performance team shared the victories.

The race weekend kicked off on Friday, 15 April, with two free practice sessions. In the sport-prototype category, the #16 Team Virage Ligier JS P4 of Ligier European Series newcomer Gillian Henrion set the fastest times of 2:00.098s and 2:00.613s. In the GT category, series regular Cédric Oltramare in the #4 COOL Racing Ligier JS2 R set the pace in 2:06.848s and 2:07.595s.

The two qualifying sessions took place in the afternoon. Nineteen-year-old Gillian Henrion in the #16 Ligier JS P4 continued to run like a rocket, taking not one but two pole positions in his first Ligier European Series weekend. He set the fastest lap in 1:59.004s and then the best time of the meeting in 1:58.738s. In the JS2 R category, the race 1 pole went to the #75 of RLR MSport and driver Haytham Qarajouli in 2:07.247s. The #4 from COOL Racing qualified fastest for race 2 with a time of 2:06.831s set by Cédric Oltramare.

Victory for the #16 Team Virage Ligier JS P4

Race 1 got off to a lively start on Saturday, 16 April. At the front, the #16 Team Virage Ligier JS P4 was overtaken by the #17 Pegasus Racing car of Dimitri Enjalbert and Anthony Nahra and then by the #12 HP Racing by Monza Garage entry of Jacopo Faccioni and Andrea Dromedari. Dimitri Enjalbert dominated the first part of the race, extending his lead to ten seconds. The #16 was back in second place, chased by two Italian rivals, the #3 LR Motorsport of Simone Ricciteli and Nicola Neri and the #23 Monza Garage with George King and Ronnie Valori.

The #16 Ligier JS P4 made a strong comeback after the pit stops. It overtook the #3 and the race-leading #17 Pegasus Racing machine. The 2021 Ligier JS2 R champion Natan Bihel in the #53 M Racing car ran as high as second place in the category but dropped down the classification following a drive-through penalty. The #16 was the first to cross the finish line, followed by the #3 and the #23. Dimitri Enjalbert (#17) clocked the fastest lap in 2:00.258s.

The Double for the RLR MSport rookies in Ligier JS2 R

Starting from pole, the #75 Ligier JS2 R of RLR MSport took off at the start. Further back, the start of the race was tumultuous, with contact between the #4 of COOL Racing and the #11 of TM Evolution driven by Alain Grand and Laurent Prunet. While the #75 continued to pull away, the two CTF Performance cars, the #95 of Nicolas Beraud and the #96 of Fabien Delaplace and Laurent Piguet, were in a scrap with Laurent Millara in the #69 from M Racing (Laurent Millara) for second and third place in the category.

The #75 Ligier JS2 R won the race hands down by more than 50 seconds over the CTF Performance #96. Haytham Qarajouli clocked the best time in the category with a lap of 2:08.158s. The RLR MSport team took an excellent double podium finish with Horst Felix Felbermayr in the #40 in third.

Two victories on French soil for Gillian Henrion

The #16 Team Virage and #23 Monza Garage Ligier JS P4s battled for the lead at the start of race 2. Behind them, the #53 of M Racing was ready to exact its revenge. The #16 took the lead from its Italian rival, but the gaps were narrower than in race one. After the mandatory pit stops, the #33 of Les Deux Arbres and Jacques Nicolet were leading in the Ligier JS P4 category. But the #16 entry soon regained command of the race, with the #23 of Monza Garage behind it.

At the second restart, the #53 M Racing Ligier JS P4 was back in contention, overtaking the #23 Monza Garage car for second place behind the Team Virage machine. Gillian Henrion (#16) marched onto the podium's top step for the second time of the weekend. He also did the fastest lap of the race in 2:00.019s. The #53 scored its first top-three finish, followed by the #23 Monza Garage car in third place.

Maiden victory for CTF Performance

In the JS2 R category, the #75 of RLR MSport got another excellent start to hold on to the lead. The  #95 of CTF Performance and the #4 of COOL Racing were in second and third place. Later on, the #69 of M Racing took advantage of a restart to overtake Cédric Oltramare (#4). In contrast to race 1, there was a leader change in the Ligier JS2 R category after the mandatory pit stop: it was now the #95 of CTF Performance leading the way. But the #75 of RLR MSport had not yet thrown in the towel. It passed the #69 of M Racing for second place.

The 2022 season is off to a flying start for the returning CTF Performance team, with the victory of its #95 Ligier JS2 R. The #75 RLR MSport car claimed its second podium of the weekend and the fastest race lap of 2:07.651s. The #69 M Racing car completed the top three.

With this overview of Le Castellet, the 2022 Ligier European Series season promises to be action-packed. The competitors will meet up again on 13 May at Imola for round two of the championship.

To read the free practice 1 report, CLICK HERE.

To read the free practice 2 report, CLICK HERE.

To read the qualifying report, CLICK HERE.

To read the race 1 report, CLICK HERE.

To read the race 2 report, CLICK HERE.

For more information about the series, CLICK HERE.