Barcelona Heat, Race 1: double for Les Deux Arbres and M Racing

The engines were roaring at 10.50 am on Saturday, 17 April, for the first race of the 2021 Ligier European Series season. A very competitive one-hour race. Two teams were able to make the most of the game by winning strongly and signing a one-two in their respective categories: Les Deux Arbres in the Ligier JS P4 with the #34 of Steve Zacchia and Antoine Lepesqueux and the #33 of Jacques Nicolet, and M Racing in the Ligier JS2 R with the #53 of Natan Bihel and the #69 of Laurent Millara

Excellent start from the #23 HP Racing by MonzaGarage Ligier JS P4 driven by Jacopo Faccioni for the first race of the week-end (and of the season). He overtook the pole-winning #34 JS P4 of Les Deux Arbres driven by Steve Zacchia with ease. However, the driver of the #34 quickly regained the lead from his rival. On lap six, Steve Zacchia recorded the fastest lap of the race in 1:54.457s. A long battle ensued between the two competitors, with Steve Zacchia followed closely by Jacopo Faccioni. The teams knew that everything would come down to the pit stop. The #23 HP Racing by MonzaGarage took the initiative to stop first: Jacopo Faccioni handed over to his compatriot Alessandro Cicognani. Then the #34 of Les Deux Arbres came in for its pit stop, with Antoine Lepesqueux taking over from Steve Zacchia.

Despite his best effort, Alessandro Cicognani could not catch the race leader, Antoine Lepesqueux. The Italian driver was even passed for second place by Jacques Nicolet in the second JS P4, the #33, entered by the Les Deux Arbres. While the Les Deux Arbres cars ran close together, any hope for victory for the #23 HP Racing by MonzaGarage entry was dashed by a penalty for not respecting the mandatory minimum pit stop time. The race concluded with a terrific one-two result for the Les Deux Arbres team, with the #34 (Antoine Lepesqueux and Steve Zacchia) in first place and the #33 (Jacques Nicolet) in second place.

Despite his best effort, Alessandro Cicognani could not catch the race leader, Antoine Lepesqueux. The Italian driver was even passed for second place by Jacques Nicolet in the second JS P4, the #33, entered by the Les Deux Arbres. While the Les Deux Arbres cars ran close together, any hope for victory for the #23 HP Racing by MonzaGarage entry was dashed by a penalty for not respecting the mandatory minimum pit stop time. The race concluded with a terrific one-two result for the Les Deux Arbres team, with the #34 (Antoine Lepesqueux and Steve Zacchia) in first place and the #33 (Jacques Nicolet) in second place.

In Ligier JS2 R, there was also plenty of intense action on the track. Yesterday, qualifying was as close as you like between the #24 Orhès Racing, driven by Mathieu Martins and Olivier Pernault, and the #53 M Racing JS2 R of Natan Bihel. But while he was supposed to start from pole, Mathieu Martins lost control of his Ligier JS2 R on the warm-up lap and was relegated to the back of the grid, leaving Natan Bihel with the advantage. Natan Bihel started in the lead and never relinquished it through the entire race, except for his pit stop.

The #24 of Orhès Racing made an impressive comeback drive through the field to move into second place, followed by the second M Racing car, the #69 of Laurent Millara. Once the #24 Orhès Racing JS2 R made its compulsory pit stop, Olivier Pernaut fought hard to hold on to second place ahead of Laurent Millara. However, the driver of the #69 car did not take his eyes off his prey for a second and moved into second place late in the race. With the victory of Natan Bihel, Laurent Millara gives M Racing a fine double finish in the opening race of the season. The #23 of Orhès Racing finished third.

The #95 CTF Performance Ligier JS2 R finished the race just off the podium with a respectable fourth place for its two bronze drivers, Nicolas Beraud and Fabien Delaplace. The #17 Ligier JS2 R of Arctic Energy driven by Povilas Jankavicius was fifth, followed by the #4 of Cool Racing with Cédric Oltramare behind the wheel, who went off the circuit on lap one. The #25 of Orhès Racing driven by Alain Bucher and Arnaud Tsamere brought up the tail-end of the field.

Natan Bihel, #53M Racing, Ligier JS2 R, Winner in JS2 R Race 1: “I am very happy to be back with the team and start the season with a victory. I think I managed my stint well during the race. « 

Antoine Lepesqueux, Les Deux Arbres, Ligier JS P4 #34, Winner in JS P4 Race 1: « We had a good time. When we got involved in this, we came here to have fun because we are not professional drivers. It was my first race in seven years, so I’m very happy to start the season like this. I felt very good in the car. I had a lot of fun. It’s very positive. « 

Steve Zacchia, Les Deux Arbres, Ligier JS P4 #34, Winner in JS P4 Race 1: « We had some problems in free practice, so we only really discovered the car in qualifying. We felt comfortable with it, and during the race, we were able to improve our times and go on for the win. « 

The second and final race of the weekend from Barcelona will start at 2:50 pm and will be aired live on the Ligier European Series website, as well as its Facebook page and YouTube channel.

To see the full results of the race 1, CLICK HERE.