Barcelona Heat, Race 2: Second victory for Mihnea Stefan with Team Virage in JS P4, CTF Performance on the top step of the podium in JS2 R

There was a change of atmosphere for race 2. The second event of the weekend was not the easiest for the Ligier JS P4 and Ligier JS2 R drivers, who had to deal with many unexpected twists. In the sports-prototype category, Team Virage had another strong showing with victory for the #48 and second place for the #60. In the JS2 R category, CTF Performance converted its podium in race 1 into victory in race 2, with the #95.

Category JS P4: Another one-two result for Team Virage, Les Deux Arbres third

Despite an eventful start, the #48 Team Virage Ligier JS P4, driven by Mihnea Stefan, held on to the lead whilst the #75 of RLR MSport, with Ian Aguilera, overtook Bernardo Pinheiro, in the #60 of Team Virage, for second place. The #75 stayed in contact with the race leader. Behind, Kaitatzis Panagiotis, in the #4 of HPRacing by Monza Garage, moved up from seventh to fourth place.

Ten minutes later, the #11 Monza Garage Ligier JS P4 driven by Ray-Yu Wang stopped on the trackside and brought out a yellow flag, which created an opportunity for Bernardo Pinheiro to close in on Ian Aguilera and for the latter to increase the pressure on Mihnea Stefan. The #7 of LR Motorsport with Jacopo Mazza and the #1 of Team Virage with Kevin Madsen received a drive-through penalty for not respecting the starting procedure.

At the re-start, the #48 and #75 continued their battle for the lead, with 0.3 seconds separating them. The #60 was third and posing a threat at less than 0.6s behind. Behind them, the #50 of Les Deux Arbres (Louis Rossi), the #17 of Pegasus Racing (Anthony Nahra) and the #16 of Pegasus Racing (Yuki Tanaka) were in a three-car battle for fifth place. As the pit stop window opened, Bernardo Pinheiro attempted a daring manoeuvre on Ian Aguilera, who resisted.

With the pitstops over, the #4 HPRacing by Monza Garage Ligier JS P4 with Georgios-Periklis Kolovos was in the lead ahead of the #16, driven by David Caussanel. Meanwhile, Mihnea Stefan exited the pits in fourth place behind George King in the #60. But the #48 driver soon overtook his Team Virage teammate and was now third. A few laps later, he was back in the lead.

George King tried, in vain, to get the better of David Caussanel. But a stop & go penalty for the driver of the #16 Ligier JS P4 saw him drop back in the standings. Steve Zacchia, driving the #50, overtook Haytham Qarajouli, in the #75 RLR MSport, for fifth place. The Swiss driver continued to lower his times and moved up to third place.

Team Virage scored its second one-two finish of the day, with Mihnea Stefan in the #48 and the duo of Bernardo Pinheiro and George King in the #60. Mihnea Stefan made it a clean sheet with two victories following his two pole positions on Friday. The #48 driver also set the race’s fastest lap in 1:45.501s. Steve Zacchia’s excellent drive through the field allowed the #50 of Les Deux Arbres to score a podium finish. The team also took first place in the PRO-AM class.

The #16 Pegasus Racing Ligier JS P4, driven by David Caussanel and Yuki Tanaka, finished first in the AM class.

Mihnea Stefan, Team Virage, JS P4 #48, winner, race 2, overall:

“My teammates are quite fast. So, every time we were on the track this weekend, we kept pushing each other more and more. When they overtake me, I was really nervous. I thought that it would be the end. But I got lucky. I think George [King] did one little mistake that I took advantage of. They were really fast, they pushed me a lot and I think I also pushed them a lot so it will be a great battle throughout the season.”

JS2 R Category: A hard-fought victory for CTF Performance, ANS Motorsport second and LR Motorsport third

Shortly after the start, there was a leader change in the JS2 R category: David Rodorigo, in the #43 LR Motorsport Ligier JS2 R, was passed by Julien Lemoine in the #42 of ANS Motorsport. The Italian then faced an inside passing move from Gilles Poret in the #95 of CTF Performance. The second French team car, the #96 with Laurent Piguet, was fourth, followed by the #86 of Les Deux Arbres with Jacques Nicolet. Simon Butler in the #10 of RLR MSport was sixth, and Christophe Weber in the #29 from Pegasus Racing was seventh.

The mandatory pit stop at mid-race did not affect the classification. Julien Lemoine had a four-second lead over Gilles Poret, who, in turn, was ten seconds ahead of David Rodorigo. The two CTF Performance Ligiers gained one place a piece and relegated the #43 to fourth place. But David Rodorigo took advantage of a driving error by Laurent Piguet to re-enter the top three.

Gilles Poret, in the #95 Ligier JS2 R, closed up to the leader and then moved into the category lead with four minutes remaining in the race, leading to a classic game of cat-and-mouse between the #95 and the #42. The two GTs swapped the lead several times. Just as things seemed to turn in the #42’s favour, Julien Lemoine lost control and went into the gravel trap.

The #95 Ligier JS2 R with Gilles Poret finished first overall and in the AM category. For the second time this weekend, the #42 of ANS Motorsport, with Julien Lemoine, finished runner-up. The #43 of LR Motorsport, driven by David Rodorigo, completed the top 3.

A mechanical problem on the final lap prevented the #10 Ligier JS2 R of Simon Butler and Maximus Mayer (who still set the fastest lap of the race in 1:52.858s) from securing the win in the PRO-AM category. The latter goes to the #29 from Pegasus Racing, with Christophe Weber and Jordan Meyer.

The first meeting of the season drew to a close. The Ligier European Series drivers will meet again on 4 June for round two of the championship; at the Le Mans 24 Hours circuit.

Gilles Poret, CTF Performance, JS2 R #95, race 2, overall and AM class:

“The start went well. I was third at the first corner. I let them do a bit in front. With the safety car it was a yo-yo situation. During the second stint, we implemented a strategy with the team that paid off. What a battle! I’m exhausted but delighted.”

The first meeting of the season drew to a close. The Ligier European Series drivers will meet again on 4 June for round two of the championship; at the Le Mans 24 Hours circuit.

For the results of race 2, CLICK HERE.