Imola Heat, Race 2: Team Virage and RLR MSport do it again

Deja vu for the #16 Team Virage Ligier JS P4 and the #75 RLR MSport Ligier JS2 R. After winning race one on Saturday, 14 May, Gillian Henrion and Haytham Qarajouli made it a daily double in their respective categories in race two at the Enzo and Dino Ferrari circuit in Imola, Italy.

Ligier JS P4: Gillian Henrion and Team Virage make it two wins in as many races!

Race two from Imola got underway at 3:15 in the afternoon. The #16 Team Virage Ligier JS P4 with Gillian Henrion behind the wheel was followed closely by LR Motorsport’s #3 with local drivers Simone Riccitelli and Nicola Neri. This intimidation did not faze the French driver, who held onto the lead. Soon, the #3 had to concentrate on M Racing’s #53 with Natan Bihel at the controls, who was determined to snatch second place from the #3. A few minutes later, Monza Garage’s #23 and its crew of Ronnie Valori and George King joined the battle. But time took its toll, and by the time the mandatory pit stop window opened, the #16 was five seconds ahead of the #3, which was 15 seconds ahead of the #53.

The second half of the race saw a change in the running order. The #3 Ligier JS P4 had a nearly six-second lead from the #16. Further back, Monza Garage’s #23 was under threat from M Racing’s #53. As the #16 regained the lead, the #53 passed the #23 for third place. But with 20 minutes remaining in the race, a Ligier JS2 R stopped on the track, bringing out the yellow flag, which led to an intervention of the safety car. The field bunched up, and Team Virage’s #16 has its lead melted like gelato in the Italian sun.

But the team breathed a sigh of relief when Gillian Henrion made a clean restart. Behind him, it was a game of musical chairs. The #53 overtook the LR Motorsports’ #3 for second place. Then, it was the turn of the #23 to attack the #3, which then found itself fourth. But the award for the best comeback of the race goes to Pegasus Racing’s #17 with Dimitri Enjalbert and Anthony Nahra. From shotgun on the field, it darted through the field to climb up to third place.

Team Virage’s #16 Ligier JS P4 scored another double victory and set the fastest lap of the race in 1:47.240s. The #53 M Racing’s #53 finished runner-up for the second time today, while the #17 car scored its first podium result of 2022.

Ligier JS2 R: Haytham Qarajouli and RLR MSport (#75) score their first-weekend sweep of victories.

In the Ligier JS2 R category, the #75 of RLR MSport started far ahead and without worry from the other GT cars. But for second place, it was a skirmish between RLR MSport’s #40 with Horst Felix Felbermayr, COOL Racing’s #4 with Cédric Oltramare and M Racing’s #69 and its driver, Laurent Millara. They were soon joined by Smart Driving’s #22 and the Romanian duo of Marian Oancea and Radu Dumitrescu. When the dust settled, the #4 battled its way to second place, while the #40 and #69 continued their fight for third place. The two GT’s played a game of cat and mouse, with the #40 keeping the position.

With a full lap lead over its rivals, the #75 RLR MSport Ligier JS2 R maintained its domination, even after the mandatory pit stops. Behind, the #4 and the #69 were in another confrontation. Cédric Oltramare had the advantage, but bad luck struck a few minutes later. A mechanical issue with his GT forced him to stop on the track and retire from the race. The #69 regained second place, with CTF Performance’s #96 of Fabien Delaplace and Laurent Piguet behind it.

With three minutes left on the clock, the #69 and #96 Ligier JS2 R’s played catch-up, while the #75 took advantage of its comfortable ten-second lead. In the end, the CTF Performance car prevailed and pulled away. Haytham Qarajouli in the #75 Ligier JS2 R scored his first double win of the season at Imola. It was a fantastic result for the Kuwaiti-born driver. The #96 ran an outstanding race to finish runner-up, while the #69 of Laurent Millara completed the podium. David Caussanel in Pegasus Racing’s #29 clocked the fastest lap in the race in 1:53.793.

Gillian Henrion, Team Virage, Ligier JS P4 #16, Winner of Race 2:

“During race 2, we kept the lead until the pit stops. We got out in second place and we battled hard. We are super proud of our performance.” 

Haytham Qarajouli, RLR MSport, Ligier JS2 R #75, Winner of Race 2:

“This is my first double win of the season. I feel good. I couldn’t ask for any more than two wins, two poles!”

Circle 8 June on your racing calendar because the Ligier European Series will be in action at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans track for an exceptional round in support of the WEC round and Road To Le Mans race. Fifty cars are expected to compete in the Le Mans Heat meeting, which will undoubtedly be memorable.

For complete results, CLICK HERE.