Success for the first Ligier JS Cup in Le Mans with 25 Ligier JS2 Rs on the starting grid
29-30 March 2019, launch of the very first single-make and single-type Ligier series, the Ligier JS Cup France, on the Bugatti track in Le Mans. There were twenty-five Ligier JS2 Rs on the starting grid, twenty-five as one of the favourite numbers of the make during its 20-year season in F1 between 1976 and 1996! A great tribute for Ligier 50th anniversary.
25 Ligier JS2 Rs for the first Cup
Unveiled at the Paris Motor Show on 11 October 2018, the Ligier JS2 R quickly won favour. Worthy successor to the Ligier JS2 - the GT of the 70s - that finished second at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1975, Ligier returned to GT with the Ligier JS2 R and to Le Mans for the first race of the Ligier JS Cup France. Twenty-five Ligier JS2 Rs were on the track for this first ever. “Twenty-five, it's a number filled with history for the make, a nice nod to the Ligier saga in Formula 1, comments Jacques Nicolet, President of Ligier Automotive. We thank the teams and drivers for their trust in the launch of our first single-make series”.
An iconic godfather
The series can also boast of its legendary godfather, Jacques Laffite, the French iconic driver of the make who scored six victories and thirty-one podiums at the wheel of a Ligier. “When Benoît [the promoter of the Ligier JS Cup France] asked me to be the Cup's godfather, says Jacques Laffite, I told him: who could be the godfather of the Ligier JS Cup France if not Jacques Laffite?! I've spent almost all of my career in F1 with Guy Ligier. I'm very glad and I thank Jacques Nicolet for allowing Guy Ligier to live on. The Ligier JS2 R is stunning! I look forward to testing it. Rendezvous in Dijon for the second race!”.
Five-hour private tests on Friday, one hour and a half of qualifying and four-hour race on Saturday morning were scheduled for this first round. “This is the entire philosophy of the Ligier JS Cup France, explains Benoît Abdelatif of Max Mamers Management, promoter of the Ligier JS Cup France. We provide a maximum of track time so that the drivers can discover how to drive a racing car and enjoy themselves in competition. The rules are simple: five compulsory stops of five minutes during the four-hour race and fifty-five-minute stints maximum per driver. With two drivers per car most of the time, this allows each driver to make the most of it”.
The private tests took place on Friday under the sun. It was the first time for many drivers that they got behind the wheel of the Ligier and the opportunity for the teams to adjust their settings.
A successful first race
On Saturday, it was time for the one hour and a half qualifying session. The MT Racing squad claimed the first pole of the series with its #48 Ligier JS2 R setting the fastest lap in 1:47.361. The gridding took place right afterwards. At 10:30 am, the race started, a great race! The suspense was at a peak until the last five minutes.
On the first lap, the #7 Ligier JS2 R entered by SKR Garage Cretot took the lead before it was overtaken by the #48 Ligier JS2 R of MT Racing. The Ligier #7 of SKR Garage Cretot, #555 of TLRT 555 and #25 of Groupauto then fought hard for the first spot. At mid-race, the #25 Groupauto Ligier JS2 R was first and held onto the lead for seventeen laps. With one hour left, the #7 SKR Garage Cretot Ligier JS2 R reclaimed the top spot before giving in to the #555 of TLRT 555 that led the race during twenty laps. Twists in the last ten laps, the #10 Zosh – Di Environnement Ligier JS2 R moved up to first and fought with its sister car, the #72 Zosh – Dirob Ligier JS2 R. Five minutes to the finish, the #72 was forced to stop to comply with the time-limits set by driver. The #10 Ligier JS2 R of Zosh – Di Environnement emerged victorious in the first race of the Ligier JS Cup France. The #72 Zosh – Dirob Ligier JS2 R finished second and set the fastest lap in race in 1 :49.019. The Ligier JS2 R #555 of TLRT 555 rounded out the podium.
A 1-2 finish for Zosh Compétition
“We are very pleased to have scored a 1-2 finish for the first race of the brand new Ligier JS Cup France, comments Jean-René de Fournoux, team manager of the Zosh Compétition squad that enters three Ligier JS2 R this season and driver of the winning #10 Ligier JS2 R. And to win in Le Mans, our home, it's even better! The season starts really well. We had a lot of fun. We discovered the car during the tests on Friday and had a chance to adjust our settings. Our mechanics did a wonderful job. During the race, they managed to repair the underfloor and to refuel in five minutes! Two cars out of three on the podium, it's a great result and a very good team effort”. Hugo Rosati, the second driver of the #10 adds: “With twenty-five cars on the track there was a great pack. It was nice to drive through it! The car is very interesting to drive”.
A promising Cup
Out of the twenty-five Ligier JS2 R on the starting grid, twenty-one cars finished. There was no retirement due to mechanical issues, only after race incidents. “An exceptional start, concludes Benoît Abdelatif. The teams of Ligier Automotive managed to manufacture twenty-five cars for the first race, despite a very short timing and a timeframe for production almost untenable. They did an impressive job for the greater enjoyment of the drivers who fully enjoyed their Ligier JS2 R. The best words to describe these first two-day race on the mythic track of Le Mans are pleasure and reliability. This is a great start for the season that looks promising for the future”.
Rendezvous in Dijon on 12 and 13 April for the second race of the Ligier JS Cup France. Twenty-eight Ligier JS2 Rs are expected for this race.
The Ligier JS Cup France
The Ligier JS Cup France is the first Ligier single-make series dedicated to the Ligier JS2 R, the latest sports car of the make. The series is organised by Max Mamers Management, the promoter of the Fun Cup and Classic Days among others. The Ligier JS Cup France includes seven races, six in France and one on the iconic Spa-Francorchamps track. For more information on the Ligier JS Cup France, please consult our website www.ligierjscupfrance.com.
Photo Credit : DPPI Images