Press Release, July 18, 2020
The first races in the all-new Ligier European Series, reserved for the Ligier JS2 R and Ligier JS P4, at Circuit Paul Ricard in support of the ELMS meeting. A terrific weekend for Cool Racing and its young driver Sébastien Baud with a brace of victories in Ligier JS2 R. A win for HP Racing Team and its Italian driver Andrea Dromedari and a trip to the top step of the podium for Larbre Compétition and its duo of Valentin Simonet and Alexandre Yvon in the Ligier JS P4 category.
At 10:50 am start for one hour of intense racing. No refuelling, no tyre changes, just one stop between the 28th and 32nd minute of the race for a driver change or an 85 second mandatory stop for drivers going it alone.
In the JS2 R category, the #45 of Victor Shaytar and the #46 of Alex Marchois from MV2S Racing occupy row one. But from the start the #81 Milo Racing JS P4 with Kevin Balthazar aboard came from the rear of the field in pursuit of the JS2 Rs, followed closely by the #50 from HP Racing Team and its Italian driver Andrea Dromedari. Victor Shaytar resisted, but eventually ceded the lead of the race to the #81 JS P4 on lap seven, then dropped behind the #50 on lap ten. The #74 Cool Racing JS2 R and MV2S Racing #46 were just behind.
Pit stops. The MV2S Racing #45 JS2 R was first to stop. Mikhaïl Makarovskii took over but the #46 JS2 R sister car made the best driver change and moved up to first place in the category with Antoine Chapus at the controls. The Cool Racing #74, still driven by Sébastien Baud, confirmed its speed from practice and battled for first place of the class with the #46 and soon took the position.
The two MV2S Racing JS2 Rs, #45 and #46, each received a stop and go penalty for not respecting the compulsory pit stop.
The #74 Cool Racing entry with Sébastien Baud onboard takes class honours, making good on his declaration after winning the pole position! The #66 M Racing of the father and son team of Erwan and Natan Bihel and the #38 HRC crew of Marc Guillot and Jean-Marc Thevenot complete the podium. Victor Shaytar in the MV2S #45 posted the best time in the category with a lap of 2:06.007s.
Conversely, the #86 M Racing JS2 R fell victim to contact on lap one and retired. It was the same for the Arctic Energy #17 on lap four. Contact also for the M Racing JS2 R #69, but that didn’t stop Laurent Millara from returning to the race and finishing fifth of the category. The #30 CD Sport, after an electrical problem, was prevented from crossing the finishing line.
In the JS P4 class, after the pit stops, the #50 HP Racing Team JS P4, still with Dromedari behind the wheel, took the lead ahead of the #81 Milo Racing JS P4.
Julien Schell in the #33 JS P4 put in a fine run up the order, setting the fastest lap of the race in 2:03.306s, with the other Larbre Compétition JS P4, the #34 of Valentin Simonet right behind.
Andrea Dromederi wins race one in the JS P4 category, after having won the mid-race battle with the Belgian team, Milo Racing #81 and its duo of Kevin Balthazar and Christophe Nivarlet. A fine showing from the youngster Kevin, who was injured Thursday afternoon. The #34 Larbre Compétition JS P4 and its tandem of Valentin Simonet and Alexandre Yvon finish third.
An unprecedented podium, which takes place under conditions of strict sanitary barriers in a remote (and more rural) location for the victors in each category with a trophy presentation to the other drivers in their pits.
Sébastien Baud, #74 Cool Racing, Ligier JS2 R, winner of the JS2 R category:
“I quickly climbed back up to the top of the order in setting the same times and by being consist. Our pit stop was okay and we will try to do even better in race 2. To win both races today is as good as it gets. The Ligier JS2 R is a fantastic car with a very nice balance. We like that because we can be aggressive from the start to the finish. It stays on pace over an hour, with super Michelin tyres that hold have as much an endurance as you would want. It’s going to be a great season! “
Andrea Dromedari, #50 HP Racing Team, Ligier JS P4, winner of the JS P4 category:
“The Ligier JS P4 is a very good car, easy for a beginner as well, and even if I am used to driving a Ligier JS P3, it has nothing to be envious of. I know I’m really going to enjoy myself and have a great experience.”
The drivers and cars have little time to rest before the second battle of the day, just three hours after race one.
Julien Schell got an outstanding start in the #33 Ligier JS P4 to pull past pole man Valentin Simonet in the #34 Ligier JS P4. Andrea Dromedari in the #50 HP Racing Team entry ran third, while Christophe Nivarlet in the Milo Racing #81 made a strong move up the order.
Marc Guillot in the #38 HRC Ligier JS2 R moved immediately past race one winner, Sébastien Baud in the #74 Cool Racing Ligier JS2 R for fourth place. A fine duel developed early in the race between the two who started from first and second position in the category. Laurent Millara in the #69 M Racing entry ran third in the class.
The #30 CD Sport Ligier JS2 R driven by Baptiste Berthelot stormed his way from last on the grid to fifth place, but received a drive-through penalty following a collision with a GT car that definitively dropped him to the very back of the field.
After the mid-race pit stops, the top-three order in the two categories remained intact. The battle continued in Ligier JS2 R between the #74 and the #38, which finally lost ground and fell down the running order.
The #45, with Victor Shaytar behind the wheel attacked the JS2R category leading #74 and was successful despite the resistance of Sébastien Baud to take the lead. But he gave up the position when he had to serve a 15-second stop and go penalty for a rule violation during his stop. The #74 Cool Racing JS2 R retook the lead in its category, followed by the two M Racing Ligier JS2 Rs, Natan Bihel in #66 and Laurent Millara aboard #69.
The two MV2S Racing cars, the #45 of the Russian drivers Shaytar and Makarovskii, and the #46 of Marchois and Chapus, finished just off the podium, followed by #38 HRC entry. Victor Shaytar in the #45 car set the fastest lap of the race with a time of 2:05.678s.
Sébastien Baud in the Cool Racing #74 won both ends of the JS2 R category double-header. The Bihel father and son tandem in the #66 from M Racing scored two runner-up results in what were two very hard-fought races.
In the sport-prototype category, the #81 Milo Racing JS P4, in the hands of Kevin Balthazar, finished its run towards the sharp end of the order in third place where the #50 from HP Racing Team held onto the lead from the #34 from Larbre Competition just until the final lap. Alexandre Yvon in the #34 car snatched the victory away from race one winner Andrea Dromedari. While the #33 JS P4 of Julien Schell and Thomas Duchene had to settle for fourth place in the category, Julien posted the fastest lap of the race with a time of 2:02.609s.
Sébastien Baud, Cool Racing, #74 Ligier JS2 R, winner of the JS2 R category:
“I’m really happy and proud to have won race two. I started from pole and controlled the race for an hour. I was really bothered by an experienced Russian driver who was right behind me and we had a brief battle, but it went my way and I crossed the finish line in the lead. I am really happy for the team. We will continue to work to do the same at Spa!!!”
Alexandre Yvon, Larbre Compétition, #34 Ligier JS P4, winner of the JS P4 category:
“They told me on the radio that the JS P4 #50 was first so when I passed the #50 at the end of the race I thought maybe I’m first or maybe the lap before was the last lap and I missed something. Unfortunately for the driver of the #50, he seemed to have a problem and we did win! It was my first time at Paul Ricard and my first time with the car. First time for everything!”
Valentin Simonet, test driver for French magazine Auto Hebdo, #34 Larbre Compétition Ligier JS P4, winner of the JS P4 category:
“I pushed very hard at the beginning and tried to set a gap with my the other drivers and my teammate did a good job and improved a lot over the weekend. It’s very nice to finish like that. It was an honor to race with Larbre Compétition. Before coming here I didn’t know what to expect because it’s a special car, a kind of batmobile. In the car, it felt like a real prototype but an easy-to-drive one. You feel like it’s the first step of the endurance pyramid, before LMP3 and LMP2. I think that for drivers who want to go to the 24 Hours of Le Mans or to the ELMS/LMC it’s a great way to get to know the tracks and to train for this kind of endurance races as the JS P4 chassis is derived from an LMP3. And of course it’s fun!”
Jacques Nicolet, President of Ligier Automotive
“What a first! I’m very happy with this first Ligier European Series weekend. I want to thank the Ligier teams and drivers for their trust and participation. Starting a championship is always a challenge. The current circumstances make this season’s start even more exceptional. And it would have not been possible without the organisation of the ELMS team and the support of our partners Michelin Motorsport, Total and Stand 21. As imagined, the Ligier European Series plays its role of being the first step in the Le Mans endurance world, in GT as well as in sports prototype. This first heat shows a lot of promise for the rest of the season. We are all looking forward being together at the next heat at Spa!”
Rendezvous for the second heat of the season, at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on 7-8 August 2020.
For the full results of Race 1, CLICK HERE
For the full results of Race 2, CLICK HERE
For the JS2 R Drivers Championship Standing, CLICK HERE
For the JS P4 Drivers Championship Standing, CLICK HERE