The first race of the season at the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit was intense. Team Virage was the dominating force of the Ligier JS P4 grid: the team scored an excellent one-two finish, with the #60 of Mihnea Stefan and the #48 of George King/Bernardo Pinheiro. In the JS2 R category, Ligier JS2 R newcomer LR Motorsport won with the #43 of David Rodorigo.
JS P4 category: Team Virage and RLR MSport on the podium
Pole winner Mihnea Stefan in the #48 Team Virage Ligier JS P4 made a clean start to stay at the sharp end of the field. But Dimitri Enjalbert in the #17 of Pegasus Racing, tried to catch his Romanian rival. Behind, other battles broke out. George King in the Team Virage #60 was in a close scrap with Simone Riccitelli in the #7 of LR Motorsport. Seventh on the grid, Haytham Qarajouli (2022 JS2 R category champion) in the #75 of RLR MSport was up to fifth place after passing the #50 of Les Deux Arbres (Steve Zacchia) and then the #16 of Pegasus Racing (David Caussanel).
After establishing the gap to the #7 Ligier JS P4, George King in the #60 came dangerously close to the #17 Pegasus Racing entry. The Briton overtook Dimitri Enjalbert under braking. Two Team Virage cars were now in the lead, seven seconds ahead of the other sports prototypes. Still, in fourth place, Simone Riccitelli closed in on the #17. The two cars were side by side, but Dimitri Enjalbert resisted. Shortly before the opening of the pitstop window, the #7 tried again to overtake the #17. Despite a tough defence from Dimitri Enjalbert, Simone Riccitelli moved into the top three. The driver of the #17 was then under threat from the #75 of RLR MSport.
Mihnea Stefan still led after the pit stops and was followed by his teammate in the #60 Ligier JS P4, Portuguese driver Bernardo Pinheiro. Jacopo Mazza in the #7 was third, followed by Louis Rossi in the #50 of Les Deux Arbres. The youngest driver in the series, Ian Aguilera, was behind the wheel of the #75 RLR MSport car, ahead of Anthony Nahra in the #17. Kevin Madsen replaced fellow American Lance Fenton in the #1 of Team Virage. Ray-Yu Wang in the #11 Monza Garage car was eighth ahead of Yuki Tanaka (#16 Pegasus Racing). The Greek duo of Kaitatzis Panagiotis and Georgios-Periklis Kolovos in the #4 of Monza Garage completed the top ten.
In the #75 Ligier JS P4, Ian Aguilera chased down his adversaries to gain two places. Like the teenage Mexican, Kevin Madsen in the #1 also made a good comeback, moving from sixth to fifth.
Team Virage and Mihne Stefan (#48) took their first victory of the season, by two seconds, from the team’s sister car, the #60 of Bernardo Pinheiro and George King. The latter set the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:45.253s. The RLR MSport #75 was third on the podium.
Steve Zacchia and Louis Rossi in the #50 Ligier JS P4 of Les Deux Arbres won in the PRO-AM class. Kevin Madsen and Lance Fenton in the #1 Team Virage took top honours in the AM category.
Due to an accident during free practice, the #14 Inter Europol Competition Ligier JS P4 with Fareed Ali could not compete in the race.
Mihnea Stefan, Team Virage, JS P4 #48, winner, race 1:
“The first race was a clean race. We had a good tyre and fuel consumption strategy. And I managed to hold onto the lead. The Ligier JS P4 is a very nice car. It’s very good for improving your driving style.”
JS2 R category: LR Motorsport, ANS Motorsport and CTF Performance in the top 3
The #10 Ligier JS2 R of RLR MSport, driven by Maximus Mayer, got off to a flying start. The Spaniard quickly took the lead and pulled away from the other GTs. Fabien Delaplace, in the #96 of CTF Performance, was in second place but made an unforced error and fell down the order. His teammate Gilles Poret, in the #95 CTF Performance car, inherited the position. The #42 of ANS Motorsport with Julien Lemoine was third before being overtaken by the #29 of Pegasus Racing with Jordan Meyer. At the top of the category, Maximus Mayer extended his lead to ten seconds.
Fifth place David Rodorigo in the #43 LR Motorsport Ligier JS2 R overtook the #42. Then the battle for third with the #29 Pegasus Racing commenced. Behind them, the #96 of CTF Performance and the #42 from ANS Motorsport made contact without apparent damage. Second place Gilles Poret in the #95 lost control of his car and fell to second to last in the running order.
After the pitstops, the #10 of RLR MSport with Simon Butler was still in the lead. Christophe Weber was now in the #29 Ligier JS2 R. David Rodorigo in the #43 maintained third place ahead of the #96 of CTF Performance with Laurent Piguet. The #42 was fifth, followed by the #95 in sixth and the #86 of Les Deux Arbres with Jacques Nicolet in seventh.
David Rodorigo kept pushing until he got his #43 Ligier JS2 R into the lead. Eleven seconds separate him from the #96 GT in second place. A position far from secure for Laurent Piguet because Julien Lemoine in the #42 was looking for an opportunity to take the spot. The driver, who had passed Simon Butler in the #10, did not let #96 get away and took second place.
In his first appearance in the Ligier European Series, David Rodorigo, behind the wheel of the #43 LR Motorsport Ligier JS2 R, won both overall and AM category. Julien Lemoine in the #42 of ANS Motorsport finished runner-up, followed by Fabien Delaplace and Laurent Piguet in the #96 from CTF Performance.
In the PRO-AM category, first place went to Simon Butler and Maximus Meyer from RLR MSport. Maximus Mayer also set the fastest lap of the race in 1:52.934s.
David Rodorigo, LR Motorsport, JS2 R #43, winner, race 1, overall and AM class:
“It was difficult at the start as I was at the back of the field. At mid-race it went very well. We did a great job during the pit stop and the restart”.
Race two of the Barcelona Heat starts in the early afternoon at 1:30 pm.
For race 1 results: CLICK HERE.