The Ligier JS P217s, JS P2s and JS P3s shine in Australia

  • Fastest lap in the race by #36 Eurasia Motorsport Ligier JS P217
  • Second place for the #36 Eurasia Motorsport Ligier JS P217
  • 100% Ligier podium for the Ligier JS P2s in LMP2 Am
  • Fastest lap in the race and double podium for the Ligier JS P3s


10-12 January 2020, 4 Hours of The Bend, second round of the 2019-2020 Asian Le Mans Series: stand-out performances by the Ligier sport prototypes, which did not reap all the rewards they merited because of safety car deployments and Full Course Yellows.  In LMP2 Pro, the #36 Eurasia Motorsport Ligier JS P217 finished second and set the fastest lap in the race.  In LMP2 Am, the Ligier JS P2s scored a dominant victory clinching a 100% Ligier podium thanks to Rick Ware Racing and ARC Bratislava.  In LMP3, the #13 Inter Europol Competition and the #12 ACE1 Villorba Corse Ligier JS P3s fought at the front throughout the four hours but just missed out on victory.  Despite this the Ligiers scored a double podium finish and fastest lap in the race went to the #12 Ligier JS P3.

Four Ligier JS P217s, three Ligier JS P2s and four Ligier JS P3s made up the majority of the packed sports prototype field comprising 10 LMP2s and seven LMP3s competing in the second round of the season.  It was the first time the teams entered for the Asian Le Mans Series found themselves in Australia on the The Bend Motorsports Park circuit, which opened in April 2018. The 7.7-km Australian layout with 34 corners proved to be a real challenge for the competitors.  The four-hour race was broken up by four Full Course Yellows.

The #1 Eurasia Motorsport Ligier JS P217 driven by Daniel Gaunt, Nick Cassidy and V8 Supercars legend, Shane van Gisbergen making his debut in the prototype category, put on a scintillating performance until its race came to a brutal halt with only a few minutes to go to the finish. The Ligier JS P217 started on the front row, quickly moved into the lead and then battled with the G-Drive Racing Aurus 01 for first place. With six minutes to go to the chequered flag it suffered a mechanical problem that forced it to retire. It was a body blow for the team that looked on course to seal its first victory of the season.

“Obviously pretty disappointed with how things ended as we could have got the win”, commented van Gisbergen.  “But overall I really enjoyed the experience with a great team and awesome cars!”

Its sister car #36 in the hands of Roberto Merhi, Aidan Read and Nick Foster set the fastest lap in the race in 2m 38.673s, 0.64 seconds quicker than the Dallara P217 and 1.539 seconds faster than the Aurus 01.  It started in fifth place and quickly picked off its rivals establishing itself in the Top 3 throughout the race in spite of safety cars and Full Course Yellows that prevented it from clinching first place.  After #1's stop, #36 finished second overall scoring its second podium of the season.

The car was fantastic engineering wise, the team in the garage, mechanics, pitstop, everything was mega and just again - I don't want to use bad language - but we got screwed by full course yellows and safety cars and it just put us out of the game”, explained Foster.  “Happy to finish on the podium, disappointed that for sure it should have been more and it could have been more.”

Into fourth came the #33 Inter Europol Competition Ligier JS P217 driven by John Corbett, Nathan Kumar and Mitch Neilson.  “I think we had a good race and both Mitch and John drove well”, said Kumar.  “It was an eventful stint for me with the safety cars and full course yellows and trying to push hard to make up some time and places. But I think we did well as a team as we ended up finishing in fourth place.”

Its stable companion #34 crewed by Kuba Smiechowski, James Winslow and Mathias Beche had to retire after only 45-minutes racing because of oil pump issues.

In the LMP2 Am category, the Ligier JS P2s dominated scoring a 100% Ligier podium.  American squad Rick Ware Racing sealed a superb double.  The #52 Ligier JS P2 driven by Cody Ware and Gustas Grinbergas took the flag in first place.  Grinbergas from Lithuania, aged only 16, became the youngest-ever winner of an ACO series event.  “I can't believe it really,” said Grinbergas, “The car was perfect, the best thing to drive here, quick, reliable and easy to be consistent with”.

Into second spot came the #25 Guy Cosmo-Philippe-Mulacek-Anthony Lazzaro Ligier JS P2.  “A shot at the win was thwarted by an engine misfire that developed just 4 laps into my 2+ hour drive to close the race”, shared Cosmo. “That aside, our Ligier JS P2 was fantastic to drive and this track became one of my all-time favorites. SO demanding, so unique!”

And in third place in the category was another Ligier JS P2, #4 run by ARC Bratislava, the reigning champion in LMP2 Am, in the hands of Miro Konopka, Andreas Laskaratos and Garnett Patterson.

In LMP3, the #13 Inter Europol Competition Ligier JS P3 crewed by Nigel Moore and Martin Hippe crossed the finishing line in second place.  The team was in fourth spot on the grid and put on a great fight back to take the race lead in the first hour.  But it finally finished second due to the deployment of the safety cars giving the reigning champion team its second podium of the season.  It is currently lying second in the 2019-2020 title chase, only one point behind the leader!

The #12 ACE1 Villorba Corse Ligier JS P3 of David Fumanelli, Alessandro Bressan and Gabriele Lancieri also put on a stunning performance setting the fastest lap in the race in 2.51.698s, 0.898 seconds quicker than the Nielsen Racing Norma M30.  It led for a good part of the event before coming home third. “A real shame that a Safety Car cost us the win”, commented Fumanelli. “But it was a great weekend and the performance was definitely there!”

Rendezvous on 14-15 February 2020 for the third round of the Asian Le Mans Series at Sepang International Circuit.


Photo Credit: Eurasia Motorsport