Michelin Le Mans Cup: The win and an all Ligier JS P320 top 5 at Circuit Paul Ricard
5 June 2021 - Round two of the Michelin Le Mans Cup took place on Saturday 5 June at Circuit Paul Ricard in France, following the opening round in Barcelona. And the French constructor once again won the pole, the race, and swept the top five places with its Ligier JS P320s, led by the #7 Nielsen Racing entry, which also clocked the fastest lap in the race.
Friday 4 June, the Ligier JS P320 set the two best times in the first free practice session with the #23 United Autosports car and drivers John Schauerman and Wayne Boyd leading the way with a lap of 1:49.629s, ahead of the #37 from Cool Racing driven by Antoine Doquin and Josh Skelton at 1:49.715s. It was more of the same in the second free practice session, but this time it was the #73 from Team Virage and its duo of Rob Hodes and Garett Grist at the top of the timing screen with a lap of 1:50.192s. The #23 Ligier finished second with a time of 1:50.369s.
The following day, the #37 COOL Racing Ligier JS P320 claimed its second pole position of the season, despite a mechanical problem that prematurely interrupted its session. The #5 Phoenix Racing car with Finn Gehrsitz and Hamza Owega was second in the session.
The race began at 4:30 pm. The #7 Nielsen Racing Ligier JS P320, driven by Anthony Wells and Colin Noble, started tenth on the grid and took advantage of a safety car period 20 minutes into the race to move up the order. After an hour of racing, the team was in sixth place and continued to move forward. The #7 car passed the #69 COOL Racing car driven by Maurice Smith and Matt Bell, and then another competitor. While in second place, it took advantage of the retirement of the #37 COOL Racing machine to go on for its first win of the season, after a close battle with the #69 car: less than a second separated the two competitors. Colin Noble also posted the fastest lap in the race at 1:49.880s.
From 16th on the grid, the #23 United Autosports Ligier JS P320 finished third, 42 seconds adrift of the winners. The #15 RLR Msport Ligier JS P320 driven by Michael Benham and Tommy Foster qualified ninth but lost ground early in the race after a run-in with another competitor. It battled back through the field to take the chequered flag in fourth place.
Starting second, the #5 Phoenix Racing Ligier JS P320 took the lead in the first hour after the safety car period. It went on to finish fifth, ahead of the #32 United Autosports Ligier JS P320 with Daniel Schneider and Andrew Meyrick behind the wheel.
Starting from pole, the #37 Cool Racing Ligier JS P320 led early but then dropped to fourth place at the end of the opening hour. It regained the lead and was on its way to victory. Yet, with 30 minutes remaining in the race, it retired after the engine bay caught fire.
Luck was not on the side of the #17 IDEC Sport Ligier JS P320 and the duo of Patrice Lafargue and Dimitri Enjalbert either. About 20 minutes after the start, it spun and hit the safety barriers, resulting in the first safety car intervention of the race. A few minutes later, the #6 ANS Team JSE Management car driven by Jonathan Brossard and Nicolas Schatz suffered the same fate. Before the end of the first hour, the #22 United Autosports Ligier JS P320, driven by Gerald Kraut and Scott Andrews, was also obliged to call it a day after contact with a competitor. On the next lap, the #71 Team Virage car with Rob Hodes and Garett Grist dropped out after a second puncture.
The Michelin Le Mans Cup will be back in action at the legendary Monza circuit in Italy on 9 and 10 July.
For the complete race results, CLICK HERE.