Portimao Heat, Qualifying: HP Racing by Monza Garage and MRacing secure pole position

Back to the Portimao circuit this Friday afternoon for the two qualifying sessions. HP Racing by Monza Garage will start both races from pole, with the #22 Ligier JS P4 in race 1 and the #23 in race 2. The #53 MRacing Ligier JS2 R closes its season in style with its fourth sweep of the GT category pole position of 2021.

The first session began at 3:30 pm. In the Ligier JS P4 category, pole position was contested among the two HP Racing by Monza Garage cars, the #22 driven by Simone Riccitelli and the #23 by Alessandro Cicognani, and the #34 of Les Deux Arbres driven by Steve Zacchia. Halfway through the session, the #23 went off the track and brought out a yellow flag. The championship leader in the sport-prototype category qualified third, behind the #34. In its first appearance in the Ligier European Series, the #22 took pole position with a best lap of 1:49.392s.

In the GT class, the #53 MRacing Ligier JS2 R driven by Natan Bihel secured its ninth pole position of the season, ahead of the #24 Orhès Racing car with Mathieu Martins behind the wheel. He set the category best time in 1:52.865s, almost 0.300s ahead of the Orhès Racing car. The #53’s sister car, the #69 driven by Laurent Millara, finished the session with the third-best time.

The second session started without delay. The #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage Ligier JS P4, this time with Jacopo Faccioni at the controls, battled with the two Les Deux Arbres entries, the #34 driven by Tom Cloet and the #33 with Jacques Nicolet. The lap times were very close, but it was the Italian car getting the nod with a lap of 1:49.963s. The #34 qualified second and the #33 third.

Not one, not two, not three, but four double pole positions for the #53 MRacing Ligier JS2 R. No one seems to be able to stop Natan Bihel. Even faster than in the first session, with a time of 1:52.366s, Natan took his tenth pole position of the season. The #24 of Orhès Racing, driven by Olivier Pernaut, will again start from P2 on the grid. The #4 of COOL Racing with Cédric Oltramare was the third-best ahead of Laurent Millara in the #69 of MRacing. The battle for third place between the rookie and the gentleman driver promises to be exciting.

Simone Riccitelli, HP Racing by Monza Garage, Ligier JS P4 #22, Pole Position Qualifying 1:

“It was a fantastic day for me because it was my first time in the Ligier JS P4, my first race in the series and at Portimao. Today, I had an amazing feeling with the car. I felt comfortable and was quick this morning. I was the fastest in free practice and the first in qualifying session. Tomorrow will be another day.  But I am confident because with Nicola we were fast today and we will try to achieve the best result possible. We will see tomorrow!”

Jacopo Faccioni, HP Racing by Monza Garage, #23 Ligier JS P4, Pole Position Qualifying 2:

“We are delighted to secure the pole for race 2 (my third of the season) after we had some small mechanical problems in the free practice session this morning. We did not run as much as we would have liked. This is the first time I have driven at Portimao. I am pleased to have improved my times between this morning and this afternoon. I hope to improve again tomorrow. We have good pace with Alessandro, and we really hope to win the races.”

Natan Bihel, MRacing, Ligier JS2 R #53, Double Pole Position :

“I am so pleased to win both pole positions in this final round in Portimao [for a total of 10 pole positions including four double pole positions this season]. It shows that I am consistent and I can perform well throughout the season, which bodes well for the two races tomorrow and the championship. There is very little time gap between us and the #24 Orhès Racing. There will be some great battles tomorrow! This is my fourth or fifth race at the Portimao circuit. It’s a relatively technical circuit, maybe one of the most complicated of the season. I’m lucky to know it well!

Make sure to catch all the action from the last two races of the season. The Ligier European Series Facebook page and YouTube channel will have live coverage of race 1 at noon and race 2 at 4:55 pm.

For the results of Q1, CLICK HERE.

For the results of Q2, CLICK HERE.