Monza Heat, Qualifying: Double pole position for Team Virage and RLR MSport

The temperature was mounting at the Temple of Speed for the weekend’s two qualifying sessions. But the near-suffocating atmosphere at the Italian circuit didn’t seem to affect the performances of Gillian Henrion at the controls of the #16 Team Virage Ligier JS P4 and Haytham Qarajouli behind the wheel of the #75 RLR MSport Ligier JS2 R. They both won the pole position for the two Saturday races.

Gillian Henrion and Team Virage maintained their supremacy in the Ligier JS P4 category with their fourth double pole position of 2022. The driver of the #16 sport prototype set the fastest lap of 1:52.982 in the opening session and 1:53.223 in the closing session. A car went off the circuit at the bottom of turn six, bringing out the red flag and interrupting the second qualifying session. Natan Bihel in the #53 M Racing car will start on the outside of row one in Race 1, while Andrei Vajda in the #85 Smart Driving car will start Race 2 alongside the poleman.

Haytham Qarajouli is back on form! After Imola in May, the #75 RLR MSport Ligier JS2 R driver claimed his second double pole position in Italy for the two Monza Heat races. He set the fastest lap of 2:00.226 and then improved his time in the second session to 1:59.521. The two pole positions were won by the smallest of margins over the #4 COOL Racing Ligier JS2 R and Cédric Oltramare for Race 1 and over his RLR MSport teammate Horst Felix Felbermayr in the #40 car for Race 2.

Gillian Henrion, Team Virage #16 Ligier JS P4, Double Pole Position :

“Qualifying was difficult because of the slipstreaming phenomenon. In the first one, we went out after the group. We did fewer laps, which allowed us to avoid some of the traffic. And we were able to push hard. In the second qualifying session, we either had a bit more trouble, or other teams adopted the same strategy as us. It was a bit of a skirmish to see who would use the slipstream from whom. We tried to open up a gap straight away on the warm-up lap. There was a red flag, and we went back out and set the fastest time. I had driven on this track two years ago. It’s one of my favourite circuits, along with Imola and now Le Mans.”

Haytham Qarajouli, RLR MSport, Ligier JS2 R #75, Double Pole Position:

“We weren’t expecting pole position as we had a mechanical failure during free practice but thankfully the RLR MSport team got the car fixed really really quickly. We kept our expectations low. We just wanted to qualify. But surprisingly we managed to get pole in both qualifying session so we’re happy. This is my first time in Monza. It’s a very fast track. Sector 3 is the best in my opinion. I feel good about tomorrow’s races. We have a comfortable lead in the championship. It would still be good to get more wins but now I have to think about points, keep it consistent and no DNFs until the end of the season”.

After an intense day in the sweltering heat at Monza, the drivers can enjoy a little breather before tomorrow’s battles. Race 1 will start on Saturday, 2 July at 11.25 am, followed by Race 2 at 2.50 pm. Both races will be streamed live on the Ligier European Series website, Facebook page and YouTube channel.

For the results of qualifying session 1, CLICK HERE.

For the results of qualifying session 2, CLICK HERE.