Press Release – October 6, 2022
The 2022 season wraps up at Portimão. The last two races of the year will take place on 14 and 15 October at the Portimão circuit in Portugal. Twenty cars will be in action, with ten Ligier JS2 Rs and ten Ligier JS P4s. Although Gillian Henrion (#16 Team Virage Ligier JS P4) and Haytham Qarajouli (#75 RLR MSport Ligier JS2 R) have already clinched the 2022 titles, nothing is yet decided for the second and third places in the two championship categories. With a strong field, the finale promises to be a thriller.
Ligier JS P4: who will get the upper hand?
Gillian Henrion and Team Virage (#16 Ligier JS P4) did not wait for the final meeting in Portimão to be crowned Ligier JS P4 category champions. The French driver has dominated since the start of the season at Le Castellet in April. He has only conceded one victory to the competition out of the ten races already run. Thanks to the €150,000 prize money for the JS P4 champion, the young hopeful will compete in the Michelin Le Mans Cup next season in a Ligier JS P320.
With 167 points to their name and a victory in the most recent heat at Spa-Francorchamps in September, Natan Bihel and M Racing (#53 Ligier JS P4) are on the top of their game. The French are odds on favourites for second place in the championship. Mathematically the JS P4 runner-up spot is not yet secure. The Italian Monza Garage team and Anglo-Italian duo George King and Ronnie Valori (#23 Ligier JS P4) are 50 points behind. They must win both races in Portimão and hope the French driver does not score any points to take second place in the championship.
Currently fourth in the provisional classification (88 points), the Romanian Smart Driving team with Alexandru Mirea (#44 Ligier JS P4) has made steady progress in the series. The Romanian driver scored a second-place result at Monza and does not intend to stop there. They can still clinch third place. Just like the French Pegasus Racing team and its drivers, Dimitri Enjalbert and Anthony Nahra (Ligier JS P4 #16), who have 84 points.
Watch out also for the newcomers who could upset the hierarchy. Team Virage will field a second Ligier JS P4, the #43, for the all-silver crew of the young Portuguese duo of Bernardo Pinheiro and José Maria Marreiros, both experienced in karting.
The #50 Ligier JS P4 will also be back in action with a father and son duo, Raymond and Raphaël Narac at the controls. Jacques Nicolet will share his seat with the retired motorbike French driver, Louis Rossi, in the final heat of 2022.
Ligier JS2 R: several teams to battle for the top three in the championship
The GT category title was also settled in the penultimate round at Spa-Francorchamps. The young Kuwaiti driver won the Ligier JS2 R title with the British team RLR MSport (Ligier JS2 R #75) with 167 points, including five wins and a second place in the first ten races. The driver will be back in 2023 in the Ligier European Series behind the wheel of a Ligier JS P4, thanks to the €100,000 prize fund awarded to the category champion to move up the endurance racing pyramid.
Second in the provisional standings is Frenchman Laurent Millara from M Racing (Ligier JS2 R #69). Third in the category last year and awarded the 2021 Gentleman of the Year title as a bonus, the bronze driver is 112 points ahead of the season finale. But nothing is decided yet. The French CTF Performance team and its duo of Fabien Delaplace and Laurent Piguet (Ligier JS2 R #96), with a gap of only 3 points, are ready to do whatever it takes to take the position. After scoring their maiden victory at Spa-Francorchamps, the two bronze drivers are fully confident that they can, once again, play a leading role.
With 77 points, the French TM Evolution team and its bronze crew formed by Bruno Chaudet and Freddy Menanteau (Ligier JS2 R #25) are also still in the race for the top 3. But they will have to be especially brilliant in the final heat of the season to catch up. The same goes for RLR MSport and Austrian Horst Felix Felbermayr (Ligier JS2 R #40), and the Swiss team COOL Racing and its driver Cedric Oltramare (Ligier JS2 R #4), who have respectively collected 68 and 61 points.
Alain Grand will be joined at the controls of the #11 TM Evolution Ligier JS2 R by French silver driver Simon Escallier, a regular of the Michelin Le Mans Cup in LMP3.
French driver Gilles Poret, who made his series debut in 2021 at the Red Bull Ring, will drive the #95 CTF Performance Ligier JS2 R.
Smart Driving will enter a second Ligier JS2 R.
Don’t miss the last two races of 2022!
The Portimão Heat will start on Friday, 14 October, from 9:30 am with the first 40-minute free practice session. The second session will begin at 2:00 pm. The first fifteen-minute qualifying sessions will be held at 4:10, followed by the second at 4:35 pm. The two one-hour races will take place on Saturday at 9:10 am and 3:15 pm.
Both races will be streamed live on the series’ website and its Facebook and YouTube channels, with commentary in French and English.
CLICK HERE for the provisional entry list
CLICK HERE for the Portimão Heat programme