Spa Heat, Race 2: HP Racing doubles up and Orhès Racing wins a thriller

Race two of the weekend at Spa-Francorchamps took place on Saturday, 18 September in the early afternoon. After victory in race 1 earlier in the day, the #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage Ligier JS P4 made it a sweep in Belgium. The #24 Orhès Racing Ligier JS2 R won in the GT category, which was of great reward for the team after their difficult start to the weekend.

The start of race 2 was delayed thirty minutes. The initial 60-minute plus one lap format was reduced to just 60 minutes.

The #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage Ligier JS P4 driven by Alessandro Cicognani got off to a good start, but the gap to its Les Deux Arbres rivals soon narrowed. Jacques Nicolet in the #33 car came dangerously close to his Italian rival after making a daring overtake on the #34 driven by Nelson. Twenty minutes after the start, the competitors were running in an extremely tight formation.

Following the mandatory pitstop at the half-distance, the #34 Les Deux Arbres Ligier JS P4 caught up to its sister car, the #33, now driven by Pierre Fillon. It moved up to second place and began to chase down the #23 car, with Jacopo Faccioni at the controls. Despite the threat, the HP Racing by Monza Garage Ligier JS P4 maintained the upper hand. A one-second stop and go imposed on the #34 for disrespecting track limits sealed the outcome of the race. The #23 took the win hands down with a lead of over 39 seconds on its rival. It was another double victory for the team, which had already won both races at Le Castellet. Jacques Nicolet in the #33 Les Deux Arbres car finished third and posted the fastest lap of the race in 2:32.086s.

The Spa-Francorchamps circuit did not spare the Ligier JS2 Rs. Shortly after the start of race two, the #95 CTF Performance car of Fabien Delaplace had to return to the pits. The cause: contact with the #69 MRacing entry driven by Laurent Millara, which bent one of the rear wheels. After their debut podium result this morning, the team with the orange car was forced to retire from race two.

Starting from pole position, the #53 MRacing Ligier JS2 R with Natan Bihel was in the lead with an almost 10-second advantage over the #24 Orhès Racing entry and driver, Olivier Pernaut. Next in line was the #69, MRacing’s second car, and then the #4 from COOL Racing with Cédric Oltramare behind the wheel. The young driver of the Swiss team, who is always in good form, overtook the #69 shortly before the mandatory pit stop.

After maintaining a gap of close to ten seconds with the #53 Ligier JS2 R, the #24 Orhès Racing car driven by Mathieu Martins managed to take the lead. The duel was very close, and Natan Bihel did not allow his opponent a moment’s rest. He continued to attack, but Mathieu Martins didn’t buckle to the pressure. Behind them, the #4 COOL Racing and driver Cédric Oltramare was waiting for the right moment to take his first win of the season. With ten minutes remaining, the three GTs were running nose-to-tail-to-nose.

The #24 Orhès Racing Ligier JS2 R held on until the chequered flag. Despite the onslaught from the MRacing’s #53, it took its fourth victory of the season. A fitting end to a weekend that had not gotten off to the best of starts for the team. While Natan Bihel had to settle for second place, he did set the fastest lap of the race in 2:34907s. After a second-place result this morning, the #4 COOL Racing Ligier JS2 R completes the podium in the afternoon race.

The end of the season is fast approaching. The Ligier European Series drivers will meet up for the season finale on 22 and 23 October at the Portimão circuit in Portugal.

To view the results of race 2, CLICK HERE.