The #72 Zosh Dirob Ligier JS2 R scores its maiden win at Spa
24-25 May 2019: the iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit hosted the third round of the Ligier JS Cup France, a four-hour race that attracted a field of 27 Ligier JS2 Rs. It was the theatre of a ding-dong battle for victory between the #72 Zosh Dirob Ligier JS2 R and #6 entered by No Limit Racing. The latter crossed the finishing line in first place only to be pushed back to second for infringing the pit stop time rules so the #72 won the race. Into third came the #48 Ligier JS2 R run by MT Racing, quickest in qualifying for the third time.
After Friday when the teams had 3 hours 30 minutes of private testing, the 1 hour 30 minutes qualifying session on Saturday morning started at 09:00 in which the drivers battled to set the fastest time. The Ligier JS2 Rs showed their pace as the fastest, #48 run by MT Racing with Steven Palette at the wheel, got round in 2m 37.288s. “It wasn't at all easy to dial in a perfect lap,” explained Steven. “But I did the job. I'm delighted to clinch another pole position in the Ligier JS2 R and proud to reward the team for their work. The start of the season's been pretty hectic.” It's #48 third pole on the bounce. Its sister car, the #42 driven by Grégory Servais, was hot on its heels.
45 minutes later the Ligier JS2 R were lined up on the grid. And the 4-hour race quickly got under way. After five laps the two MT Racing Ligiers, #48 of Steven Palette / Yves Bandi and #42 driven by Grégory Servais / Dominique Lecru, had opened up a slight gap followed in third place by a third MT Racing entry. Then came #6 entered by No Limit Racing in the hands of Ludovic Bellinato and Nicolas Ciamin, the #72 Zosh Dirob entry driven by the Robin brothers, Arnold and Maxime, and #65 run by N'Race for Alexis Carmes and Olivier Virolle.
There were several safety car deployments during the race making it difficult for the teams to calculate strategies. The fourth came out with an hour to go to the finish so several teams decided to change drivers. Another safety car and the leaders bunched up. The battle for first place raged between the #72 Zosh Dirob Ligier JSR and No Limit Racing‘s #6. #72 retook the lead eight minutes from the flag with #6 second and MT Racing's #48 third.
On the last lap Nicolas Ciamin in #6 went back in front and crossed the line in first place. But the #6 was hit with a penalty after the race for not respecting the time allocated for pit stops dropping back to second.
“It was my first time driving the Ligier JS2 R,” said Ciamin who's more used to rallies. “And my first at Spa! The car's really nice, but it was a difficult race with all the safety cars. We led for most of the event and had a good scrap with #72. I thought we had a lap in hand and I let myself be overtaken. I got back in front last time round. Finally, we came second after a penalty. It's a pity.” Ludovic Bellinato added: “I'm very happy with our second place. We really fine-tuned the car's setup. I was no longer holding back: I enjoyed myself very much.”
Victory finally went to the Zosh Dirob #72 that came home second. “The race went off very well,” said Maxime Robin. “We managed to put a good strategy in place. Our aim was to make as many pits stops as possible during the safety car periods! I had a great fight for victory in my final stint. We finished three-tenths behind and finally we won because of #6's penalty. I' m over the moon. A big thanks to the whole team who did a crazy amount of work.” Arnold agreed: “It wasn't an easy win. We lacked outright performance compared to Le Mans and Dijon, but a good strategy and a flawless race helped us to victory.”
#48 run by MT Racing came home third. “I really enjoyed driving the Ligier JS2 R on the Spa circuit, especially in the quick corners where the car allowed you to push hard and fine tune your lines,” summed up Steven Palette. “It wasn't an easy race with the many safety cars and some slight rain on part of the circuit. My friend and team-mate, Yves Bandi, and I snatched a good third place. Overall, a great weekend in a warm ambience with shared pleasure and performance!”
Rendezvous for the fourth round at Magny-Cours on 9th June for a 6-hour race!
Photo Credit: Didier Nauly