Le Mans Heat, Race 1: Team Virage and Zosh – Di Environnement garner the laurels of victory

10 June 2022 – As expected, the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit was the scene of a spectacular display on Friday, 10 June 2022, when race one of the Ligier European Series took place on the legendary French track. A race of extreme tension with several yellow flags. The #16 Team Virage Ligier JS P4 once again secured the win in the JS P4 category. In JS2 R, the #10 of Zosh – Di Environnement obtained the coveted trophy.

Ligier JS P4: Gillian Henrion and Team Virage (#16) score the maiden victory of the series on the Le Mans 24 Hours circuit

In the Ligier JS P4 category, the #16 Team Virage entry (Gillian Henrion), started from pole position but was passed immediately by the #3 LR Motorsport (Simone Riccitelli and Nicola Neri). Several competitors made contact, and a GT went off the track, leading to a safety car period. The #3 car managed to keep the lead at the restart, followed by the #16 and the #23 Monza Garage car (George King and Ronnie Valori). But Gillian Henrion kept attacking and snatched the lead from Simone Riccitelli. The gaps between the two were next to nil at less than two-hundredths of a second.

Behind them, the #17 Pegasus Racing Ligier JS P4 (Dimitri Enjalbert and Anthony Nahra) overtook the #23 Monza Garage. With just over half an hour left in the race, a double yellow flag flew over the Sarthe circuit after the #50 Les Deux Arbres  spun, and a Ligier JS2 R went off the track. Dimitri Enjalbert continued to move up the order by overtaking the #3 for second place. But this was not enough for the driver in the sky-blue sport-prototype. A few minutes later, he passed championship leader Gillian Henrion for the lead.

The pit stops started as the yellow flag was shown again. The #3 LR Motorsport, #53 M Racing (Natan Bihel) and #85 Smart Driving (Andrei Vajda) Ligier JS P4s were the only cars to stay out. Although they were in the lead, the strategy did not pay off as the slow zone was lifted on the following lap as they entered the pit lane. The #16 Team Virage was back in the lead, ahead of the #17 and the #53. Natan Bihel defended third place against the onslaught of the #21 Team Virage (Viacheslav Gutak and Alessandro Bracalente). The latter overtook the French driver but then spun with five minutes to go.

The #16 Team Virage Ligier JS P4 won race one of the Ligier European Series at Le Mans, setting the fastest lap of 4:05.688s. The #17 Pegasus Racing car put in a solid race with its second consecutive top-three finish, this time in second place. Natan Bihel in the #53 completed the podium, with his fourth top-three result of the season.

Ligier JS2 R: Zosh – Di Environnement (#10) wins ahead of ANS Motorsport (#6)

In the Ligier JS2 R category, the #6 of ANS Motorsport (Mathys Jaubert and Gregory Segers) retained the lead at the start. Less than ten minutes into the race, two GT cars retired: the #4 COOL Racing (Cédric Oltramare), which crashed in the first chicane, and the #24 Orhès Racing (Mathieu Martins and Tanguy Ide), which suffered a puncture following contact. The #10 of Zosh Di Environnement (Jean-René De Fournoux and Hugo Rosati), which started second, was less than four-hundredths of a second behind the leading car. At the halfway point of the race, it passed the #6 car for the first time.

The #40 RLR MSport Ligier JS2 R (Horst Felix Felbermayr) was leading when it went out of control in the Porsche corners and ended up in the gravel trap. Meanwhile, the #6 passed the #10, while a slow zone was established just prior to the opening of the pit stop window. Behind the two leading GTs, the #72 LADC Motorsport (Paul Cocaign and Xavier Follenfant) and the #95 CTF Performance (Nicolas Beraud and Alban Varutti) were locked in battle.

Ten minutes before the end of the race, the #10 Zosh – Di Environnement Ligier JS2 R took the lead. The #95 CTF Performance was third, with the #75 RLR MSport (Haytham Qarajouli) in its rear-view mirror. Despite another racing incident and a yellow flag, the order remained unchanged.

The #10 Zosh – Di Environnement Ligier JS2 R was first to see the chequered flag. It also clocked the fastest race lap in 4:18.803s, with Hugo Rosati at the controls. The #6 ANS Motorsport finished second, which is an excellent result for the team and its young drivers, Mathys Jaubert and Gregory Segers, only 17 and 21 years old, in their debut in the championship and on the Le Mans 24 Hours circuit. The CTF Performance #95 of Alban Varutti, and Nicolas Béraud completed the podium.

Gillian Henrion, Team Virage, Ligier JS P4 #16, Winner Race 1:

“The first half of the race was difficult. We tried some new sets up, which made it difficult early on in the race. But in the second half of the race, we improved. The biggest challenge was the start. We had some problems and lost a position. With the slipstream, it was hard to bridge the gap. But we did it! To win on the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit is just incredible. I was speechless. I even cried. I was very happy to have my father by my side on the podium. He has stood by me since my first kart race.”

Jean-René De Fournoux, Zosh – Di Environnement, Ligier JS2 R #10, Winner Race 1 in the JS2 R category:

“I was following the #6 ANS Motorsport car. It was going well, and I managed to overtake it. Unfortunately, just before handing the car over to my teammate, I was hit by a Ligier JS P4. I spun and then had to restart. So, I lost around ten seconds. And then Hugo did the job!”

Hugo Rosati, Zosh – Di Environnement, Ligier JS2 R #10, Winner Race 1 in the JS2 R category:

“It’s absolutely brilliant to drive on the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit. The best thing is the immense podium, and you truly feel like you belong. The circuit is iconic, and to be able to drive on this track is truly exceptional.”

Race two of the Le Mans Heat will take place on Saturday,11 June at 9 am, as the curtain-raiser to the 90th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It will be streamed live on the Ligier European Series website, on its Facebook page and its YouTube channel.

For the complete results, CLICK HERE.