Press Release – August 7, 2020
Round two of the Ligier European Series, in support of the ELMS meeting at Spa-Francorchamps. Eleven Ligier JS2 Rs and three Ligier JS P4s battled in free practice and qualifying. Like at Circuit Paul Ricard, after setting the best time in free-practice, Victor Shaytar in the #45 MV2S Racing Ligier JS2 R claimed the pole position in the first qualifying session. In the second session, three Ligier JS2 Rs were covered by just over two-tenths of a second, but it was the youngster Mathieu Martins from the Institut de Pilotage in the M Racing #86 taking the pole. M Racing and the Institut de Pilotage also stood out in the Ligier JS P4 category with teenager Sacha Lehmann in the #16 car winning the pole for both races.
On this first day under the scorching Ardennes sun there was a one-hour free-practice and two 20-minute qualifying sessions. Sadly, the #27 Raw Motorsport Ligier JS P4 with the Ferguson brothers had to withdraw. The British team decided to return home to avoid the quarantine measures employed Thursday evening by Great Britain concerning people returning from a stay in Belgium.
Like at Paul Ricard in July, the #50 Ligier JS P4 of the Italian HP Racing Team, still with Andrea Dromedari behind the wheel, set the best time of 2:29.821s in free-practice. In his Ligier European Series debut, 18-year-old Sacha Lehmann from the Institut de Pilotage Automobile, in the M Racing #16 Ligier JS P4 was close behind. The #81 entry from the Belgian Milo Racing team with Kevin Balthazar at the controls, rounded out the top three.
In the Ligier JS2 R category, veteran Russian driver Victor Shaytar in the #45 MV2S Racing entry led the way with a lap of 2:35.694s. At about one second behind it was 19-year-old Frenchman, Mathieu Martins from the Institut de Pilotage Automobile, in the M Racing #86 entry, who was just over a tenth of a second quicker than Nerses Isaakyan, in the #17 from the Russian Artic Energy team, who will compete in this race solo.
In the opening qualifying session, to determine the grid for race 1, several cars saw some of their lap times nullified for exceeding track limitations, in particular in the high-speed Raidillon corners. This generated some surprises in the hierarchy. At the same time, the younger generation tried to push the more experienced drivers.
Mission accomplished in Ligier JS P4. Sacha Lehmann in the #16 from M Racing won the pole with a time of 2:29.658s, ahead of Kevin Balthazar in the #81 from Milo Racing, who clocked a lap of 2:30.700s, leaving Andrea Dromedari in the #50 from HP Racing Team third best with a time of 2:30.724s!
In the Ligier JS2 R, it was the top three from free-practice. Victor Shaytar in the MV2S Racing #45 was quickest with a lap of 2:35.373s to just barely edge out Mathieu Martins in the M Racing #86, whose best was 2:35.403s! Nerses Isaakyan in the Arctic Energy #17 was third with a time of 2:36.022s.
Two hours later, while temperatures peaked during qualifying for race 2, M Racing won the pole in both categories.
In sports prototype, Sacha Lehmann in the #16 Ligier JS P4 improved his best time with a lap of 2:29.135s. Andrea Dromedari was right behind, just two-tenths of a second adrift and will line-up second on the grid. The #81 from Milo Racing, with Christophe Nivarlet, this time, will start third.
In the Ligier JS2 R category, Mathieu Martins in the #86 got some revenge and claimed the pole in 2:35.434s. Sébastien Baud, in the #74 entry of the Swiss Cool Racing team will share row one after completing a lap around Spa-Francorchamps in 2:35.649, while Nerses Isaakyan in the #17 from Arctic Energy completes the top three with a time of 2:35.652s. The tight gaps promise to make for some terrific race battles!
Sacha Lehmann, M Racing, Ligier JS P4 #16, Pole Position Qualifying 1 and 2:
“This is the first time I have driven the Ligier JS P4 in competition and it has gone very well. I was quickly on pace. I had a few minor problems with the car early in the day, but the team swiftly got it all sorted out and I want to thank them. The goal of a driver is to steadily improve throughout the day and find the small things to improve on the car or on the racing lines and that is what I did today. The objective tomorrow is for sure the win in the two races with the fastest lap if possible. That would be very, very good!”
Victor Shaytar, MV2S Racing, Ligier JS2 R #45, Pole Position Qualifying 1:
“We had a big surprise with the new set of tyres, maybe the tyre pressure was too high and at the beginning of the session I was too slow. We also use an easy set-up for my teammate, Mikhaïl, who is a gentleman driver. So we lost a bit of time in certain sectors of the track. For me it’s very important that Mikhaïl improves step by step. We work for this. Of course I’m very happy to have clinched pole position and set the fastest time of the day in the JS2 R category. Especially because I stopped my career two years ago and I hadn’t raced since. So now I’m trying to get back at a high level. I really like this car and I’m also improving myself! We’ll see!”
Mathieu Martins, M Racing, Ligier JS2 R #86, Pole Position Qualifying 2:
“It was a great session and I set the time it took. I am very pleased. Compared to the first race at Le Castellet, I understand the car better and better, and that’s why I am improving. I’m trying to make the best of it! And it might be easier to be a solo driver, there will be less stress in the pits. And tomorrow, why not two podiums, that would be awesome!”
Races 1 and 2 will take place tomorrow from 9h20 to 10h25 and from 13h15 to 14:20.