Red Bull Ring Heat, Qualifying: temperamental weather conditions and pole positions contested in Austria

The weather was less cooperative on Friday, 14 May at 2.50 pm and 3.05 pm for the two qualifying sessions of the Ligier European Series in Austria. While the drivers practised on a dry track in the morning during free practice, wetter weather came to the Red Bull Ring in the afternoon. Despite this additional difficulty, the #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage JS P4 and the #53 M Racing JS2 R won the respective pole positions for race one, while the #33 Les Deux Arbres JS P4, and the #24 Orhès Racing JS2 R will start race two at the top of the order.

The #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage Ligier JS P4 driven by Alessandro Cicognani, kept its momentum going, taking pole position in the first qualifying session with the best time in 1:37.726s. The #33 of Les Deux Arbres with Jacques Nicolet was second.

With the best time of 1:40.374s, the #53 M Racing Ligier JS2 R driven by Natan Bihel edged out Mathieu Martins in the #24 Orhès Racing entry for the pole. Only 0.25s separated the two silver drivers. The #95 CTF Performance car will start race one from third on the grid thanks to a strong showing from Nicolas Beraud.

The rain was more prevalent in the second qualifying session, particularly at the top of the circuit, which affected the classifications. In the Ligier JS P4 category, the #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage car driven by Jacopo Faccioni fell behind the #33 Les Deux Arbres car driven by Jacques Nicolet, after dominating part of the session. The gentleman driver will start race two from the pole after setting the best time of 1:47.523s.

The battle was very close in the Ligier JS2 R. With the best time of 1:51.143s, the #24 Orhès Racing car driven by Olivier Pernaut claimed the pole for race two. Today’s pole position is the second of the season for the Orhès Racing team and the first for the bronze driver. Natan Bihel, in the #53 M Racing Ligier JS2 R, qualified second ahead of the second Orhès Racing car, the #25 driven by F1 commentator and gentleman driver Julien Fébreau, who set an impressive time for his debut in the Ligier JS2 R and the series.

The first one-hour race on Saturday, 15 May, will start at 11:50 am. Race two will get underway at 4 pm. Both races will be broadcast live on the Ligier European Series Facebook page and YouTube channel.

Alessandro Cicognani, HP Racing by Monza Garage, #23 Ligier JS P4, Pole Position Qualifying 1:

“I was expecting to take the pole position because I ran well this morning. I tried to take advantage of the first few laps when the track was still dry to set a good time. Unfortunately, I crossed the white line, and my time was disallowed. Then it started to rain, and I had to do another lap in slightly more difficult conditions. But in the end, I managed to do the same time, and I am very satisfied. “

Natan Bihel, M Racing, #53 Ligier JS2 R, Pole Position Qualifying 1:

“As the track marshals were watching me closely, I played it safe, and it worked out fine. The other car [Laurent Millara’s #69] had laps nullified due to track limits. So, it paid off, and that was good. In the second qualifying session, Olivier was two-hundredths better. It’s not much, but it is significant. Congratulations to him, and we’ll see how it goes in the race”.

Jacques Nicolet, Les Deux Arbres, #33 Ligier JS P4, Pole Position Qualifying 2:

“One-third of the circuit was soaked, and everything else was more or less dry. But there was the constant uncertainty of having to find several wet areas on each lap. I wanted to test the rain tyres because I had never driven in the rain and with rain tyres on this car. It paid off because, on my second lap, I set the fastest time. “

Olivier Pernaut, Orhès Racing, #24 Ligier JS2 R, Pole Position Qualifying 2:

“I am so happy! It started to rain halfway through qualifying, half of the track was soaked, and the other half was essentially dry. As we were still on slick tyres, it was complicated. But I’m pleased because we used a different strategy compared to others, and it worked. “

For the complete results from Q1, CLICK HERE.

For the complete results from Q2, CLICK HERE.