After a free practice session dominated by the series regulars, the Ligier European Series field took to the Barcelona track on Friday, 16 April at 3.20 pm for two 15-minute qualifying sessions. The #24 Orhès Racing Ligier JS2 R and the #33 Les Deux Arbres Ligier JS P4 will start from pole position in their respective categories in race one. The #53 M Racing Ligier JS2 R and the #23 HP Racing Ligier JS P4 will do the same in race two.
Qualifying was a tight affair this Friday afternoon on the asphalt of the Catalan circuit. In the JS2 R category, the #24 Orhès Racing entry driven by Mathieu Martins had a long battle with the #53 M Racing car with Natan Bihel behind the wheel. While several of their laps were not credited for exceeding track limits, the two drivers fought to the end, each taking a turn at the sharp end of the order.
The scenario was identical in the JS P4 category with a confrontation between the #23 HP Racing by MonzaGarage and the #33 Les Deux Arbres. The gap was sometimes only two hundredths between the two cars, and like with their JS2 R colleagues, several laps were disallowed for exceeding the boundaries of the circuit.
The first qualifying session concluded with the #24 Orhès Racing JS2 R leading its category with a time of 1:55.365s set by Mathieu Martins. In the JS P4 category, the #34 Deux Arbres car driven by Steve Zacchia claimed the pole position with a lap of 1:53.441s.
Qualifying for race two followed right after. It was an opportunity for the series regulars to get their revenge. In JS2 R, gentleman driver Laurent Millara took the lead in the session with the #69 of M Racing. At the halfway point in the session, it was caught by the team’s sister car, the #53, with Natan Bihel at the controls. The end of the session was marked by the comeback of the #24 Orhès Racing car, driven by Olivier Pernault, who arrived second in the standings. In JS P4, the #23 HP Racing by MonzaGarage machine driven by Alessandro Cicognani and the #33 of Les Deux Arbres, with Jacques Nicolet behind the wheel, continued their battle that began in Q1.
In the end, it was the #23 HP Racing by MonzaGarage car claiming the pole for race two, thanks to a time of 1:53.807s set by Alessandro Cicognani. In Ligier JS2 R, the #53 M Racing entry, with Natan Bihel aboard, set a category best time of 1:55.261s.
The drivers will start the first one-hour race of the season on Saturday, 17 April at 10.50 am. Race two, which will also be one hour, will begin at 2.50 pm. Both races will be televised live on the Ligier European Series website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel.
Steve Zacchia, Les Deux Arbres, Ligier JS P4 #34, Pole Position Qualifying1:
“We had an issue during free practice this morning, and with Antoine, we didn’t run very much. I headed out for qualifying, not knowing much about the car. I didn’t have the chance to try it out before this meeting. But the car felt really good. It is quite different to what I have driven to this point but very nice. To my big surprise, it went rather well!”
Mathieu Martins, Orhès Racing, Ligier JS2 R #24, Pole Position Qualifying 1: «
“We made a lot of adjustments this morning so that the car would be at its best this afternoon for the first qualifying session of the season, and it worked very well! Pole position in the first session, with Olivier setting the second-best time in Q2. We will try to be at our best tomorrow; we never give up and hope that it goes well ».
Alessandro Cicognani, HP Racing by MonzaGarage, Ligier JS P4 #23, Pole Position Qualifying 2:
« It is very emotional to be back in the European Le Mans Series paddock with a fantastic car. I didn’t expect to get pole position. It was a wonderful surprise! I have to say that the car handles very well, and I hope to have a good race tomorrow. «
Natan Bihel, M Racing, Ligier JS2 R #53, Pole Position Qualifying 2: « I felt comfortable in the car straight away. I quickly took over the reins. During the first qualifying session, we had a good battle with Mathieu. It was very close. I have the impression that we have picked up where we left off last season! We’ll have to be careful in the race, not make any mistakes and be consistent! There will be some great battles. «
Click here for the full results of Q1.
Click here for the full results of Q2.