With the final race of the year, the curtain has come down on the 2022 Ligier European Series season at Portimão on Saturday. Gillian Henrion and Team Virage (Ligier JS P4) added to a near perfect season with an eleventh win from twelve races. In the Ligier JS2 R category, Horst Felix Felbermayr in the #40 Ligier JS2 R of RLR MSport takes his first victory in car racing.
Ligier JS P4: Gillian Henrion on the top step of the podium for the eleventh time!
Just like the start of Race 1 this morning, Gillian Henrion in the #16 Team Virage Ligier JS P4 left his rivals no chance and pulled away from the start. The #23 Monza Garage car driven by George King moved from fourth to second place behind the leader. The duel for third place commenced between the #53 of M Racing (Natan Bihel) and the #44 of Smart Driving (Mihnea Stefan). Very determined since the beginning of the weekend, the series newcomer, Mihnea Stefan, got the upper hand on Natan Bihel and passed him for the position. It was now George King’s turn to be pressured by his Romanian rival.
A reckless move by the #44 Ligier JS P4 destabilised George King, who dropped back one place. A few metres behind, Natan Bihel seized the opportunity to overtake the British driver. It was then the #50 with Raphaël Narac aboard (Les Deux Arbres) that came dangerously close to the #23. The driver of the Les Deux Arbres car found himself in the sights of Andrei Vajda in the #85 Smart Driving entry and lost a position. Further back, former motorbike racer Louis Rossi (#33 Les Deux Arbres) overtook the #17 Pegasus Racing (Anthony Nahra) and moved into ninth place. But at the mid-way point of the race, Louis Rossi had made contact with the #11 TM Evolution Ligier JS2 R and spun.
A yellow flag was shown as the pitstop window opened after the #4 COOL Racing Ligier JS2 R driven by Cédric Oltramare parked along the side of the track. The sport prototypes made their pit stops, and the #16 came out in the lead, with the #53 of M Racing and the #44 of Smart Driving behind it. A safety car period was needed, with 20 minutes remaining to retrieve the #4, which retired.
The Ligier JS P4s and JS2 Rs were in a tight pack for the restart, with 14 minutes left on the clock. The #53 Ligier JS P4 took advantage of the presence of the GT cars to pull away from the #44. Behind them, the #50 and the #85 made contact. The #23 made the most of the situation to gain a position and go on to finish fifth, while the #50 had to stop in the pits to mend a puncture.
Then, everything accelerated: the #44 Ligier JS P4 got the better of the #53. Behind them, the #85, the #3 LR Motorsport car with Simone Riccitelli and the #23 were on the lookout. The #85 spun as it attempted to pass the #53 on the inside. Natan Bihel narrowly avoided contact but went off the track, giving Simone Riccitelli a clear path to move past him. The #17, driven by Dimitri Enjalbert, took fifth place. Gillian Henrion was the first to see the chequered flag, adding the eleventh victory to his impressive record. He also set the fastest lap of the race in 1:46.063s. Simone Riccitelli and Nicola Neri scored their second podium result of 2022 after their second-place finish in the opening round at Le Castellet. Natan Bihel completed the podium in third place.
Ligier JS2 R: Horst Felix Felbermayr scores his maiden victory in car racing
Horst Felix Felbermayr, in the #40 RLR MSport Ligier JS2 R, started from the GT category pole but immediately came up against a hard-charging Cédric Oltramare in the #4 COOL Racing entry. The Swiss driver soon overtook his Austrian counterpart. But Horst Felix Felbermayr, with three podiums to his name this season, was determined to win the last race of the campaign. A few minutes later, he was back in the category lead. Laurent Millara in the #69 of M Racing was third ahead of Martin Rich in the #75 of RLR MSport.
The #11 TM Evolution Ligier JS2 R (Alain Grand), the #96 CTF Performance (Laurent Piguet), and the #25 TM Evolution (Freddy Menanteau) battled for fifth place. In the end, it was the #96, winner of race 1, that came out on top. The second CTF Performance car, the #95 with Gilles Poret, came back strongly to take sixth place ahead of the #25.
Before the pit stop window opened, the #4 COOL Racing Ligier JS2 R went off the track. This was due to damage caused by contact with the #40 at the start of the race. The #4 was forced to retire. A few minutes earlier, another Ligier JS2 R, the #11 of TM Evolution, dropped out after contact with a Ligier JS P4. After the GT pit cycle was completed, the #40 held onto the race lead, ahead of the #96 and the #75, driven by Haytham Qarajouli. Gilles Poret in #95 was fourth.
The 2022 Ligier JS2 R champion in the #75 overtook the #96. A few minutes later, the CTF Performance car was penalised with a drive-through for abusing the track limits. It then dropped back to fourth place after losing position to its sister car, the #95. As it could not serve the drive-through, its penalty was added to its time after the race.
Horst Felix Felbermayr in the #40, took the top step of the podium for the first time this season and in his car racing career. Haytham Qarajouli finished second (with the fastest lap of 1:53.408s) ahead of Gilles Poret, who secured his first podium in the Ligier European Series.
For the complete results, CLICK HERE.
Gillian Henrion, Team Virage, Ligier JS P4 #16, winner race 2:
“It was a tough race and it was extremely hot. I’m sad that the Ligier European Series is over. I had such a great time. I really enjoyed the Ligier JS P4 and the tracks we raced at”.
Horst Felix Felbermayr, RLR MSport, Ligier JS2 R #40, 96 winner race 2 in the Ligier JS2 R category:
“I started from pole, my first pole position of the season. And then I just drove and focused, improving lap by lap. This is my first win in car racing. I feel really great about it and I look forward to the next one.”
Season three of the championship is over! Crowned Ligier JS P4 Champion at Spa-Francorchamps last September, Gillian Henrion and Team Virage finish ahead of Natan Bihel and M Racing (Ligier JS2 R Champion in 2021) who become runners-up in the Ligier JS P4 category. The top 3 is completed by by George King and Monza Garage.
In the GT category, the Ligier JS2 R title was given to Haytham Qarajouli and RLR MSport in the penultimate round of the season in Belgium. The victory of CTF Performance’s #96 at Portimão sees the bronze duo of Fabien Delaplace and Laurent Piguet finish second in the championship. Like in 2021, Laurent Millara and M Racing complete the top 3.
For the Ligier JS P4 Teams classification, CLICK HERE.
For the Ligier JS P4 Drivers classification, CLICK HERE.
For the Ligier JS2 R Teams classification, CLICK HERE.
For the Ligier JS2 R Drivers classification, CLICK HERE.
The launch of season four comes on 21 and 22 April 2023!