Spa Heat, Race 1: Victory for HP Racing and MRacing and maiden podium for CTF Performance

Race one for the Ligier European Series took place mid-morning on Saturday, 18 September 2021. In the Ligier JS P4 category, the #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage car wins a close duel with the #34 Les Deux Arbres car. It was followed by the #33 Les Deux Arbres sister car. In the GT category, the #53 MRacing Ligier JS2 R scores its sixth win of the season ahead of the #4 COOL Racing entry. After four rounds, the #95 CTF Performance car claims its first podium result!

Race one of the weekend started at 10:55 am on Saturday, 18 September. In the Ligier JS P4 category, the #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage car driven by Jacopo Faccioni started from pole position and quickly opened up a gap to its rivals. It was followed by the two Les Deux Arbres cars, the #33 with Jacques Nicolet at the controls and the #34 driven by Nelson. Fifteen minutes into the race, the Ligier JS P4s were all at the front of the field.

The pit stop window opened at the twenty-seven-minute mark. The #23 and #33 Ligier JS P4s were the last to make their mandatory stops. Jacopo Faccioni handed over to Alessandro Cicognani while Jacques Nicolet made way for Pierre Fillon, who was competing in the European championship for the first time.

Back on track, the #34 Ligier JS P4 driven by Nelson, then in third place, reeled in the #33 car, moved into second place in the category. The #34 driver didn’t stop there as he then attacked the race leader, the #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage. Five seconds, four seconds, three seconds. The more the race went on, the smaller the gap became. With one minute to go, 0.149 seconds separated the #23 from the #34. But the latter received several warnings from the race stewards for disrespecting the track limits. Alessandro Cicognani in the #23 again opened up a gap and went on to win the race by one and a half seconds. He set the fastest lap of the race in 2:32.486s.

So far, it has been a weekend best forgotten for Orhès Racing and its two Ligier JS2 Rs. While the #25 car had to withdraw from the two Spa Heat races (after crashing yesterday morning during free practice), the #24 car driven by Mathieu Martins and Olivier Pernaut was the victim of an incident on the opening lap. Contact with the #27 24.7 Motorsport Ligier JS P4 resulted in a right-rear tyre puncture, forcing Mathieu Martins to pit. Despite their efforts, the team was unable to make up the lost ground.

MRacing’s #53 Ligier JS2 R and driver Natan Bihel jumped into the lead ahead of the #95 CTF Performance car driven by Nicolas Beraud and the #4 COOL Racing Liger JS2 R driven by Cédric Oltramare. But the mandatory pitstop at mid-race spiced things up among the leading trio.

The #95 CTF Performance Ligier JS2 R, now driven by Fabien Delaplace, took the category lead ahead of the #4 COOL Racing and the #53 MRacing. True to form, Natan Bihel soon attacked Cédric Oltramare, who was defending second place. But in the last corner of the circuit, the COOL Racing driver lost the advantage to the leader of the JS2 R championship. The latter continued to push, and with 20 minutes remaining in the race, he retook the lead despite a tenacious Fabien Delaplace. The #53 won for the sixth time of the season and clocked the fastest lap of the race in its category in 2:35.624s.

In a last-ditch effort, the #4 COOL Racing Ligier JS2 R finished runner-up for the second time this season. After four rounds, CTF Performance finally scores a podium result. A well-deserved achievement for the team, which has made steady progress since the beginning of the Ligier European Series season.

Back to the Toboggan des Ardennes at 2.20 pm for race two of the weekend. It will be aired live on the Ligier European Series website, YouTube channel and Facebook page.

For the complete results of race 1, CLICK HERE.