Race 1 of the weekend began early on Saturday morning (15 July), with many twists and turns. Team Virage made another trip to the podium’s top step in the general classification with the #48 Ligier JS P4 driven by Mihnea Stefan, taking its third win of the season. The Polish squad made it a one-two with the #60 of Bernardo Pinheiro and George King. In the JS2 R category, Julien Lemoine took his first overall victory in the #42 of ANS Motorsport.
JS P4 category: A second one-two finish for Team Virage
Starting from pole position, Daniele Cazzaniga, in the #4 HPRacing by Monza Garage Ligier JS P4, maintained his advantage at the start. Third on the grid, George King in the #60 Team Virage was ready for action. He overtook the #7 from LR Motorsport, driven by Simone Riccitelli, and took on the leader. As they battled, they collided at the Signes bend. The #4 went off the track while the #60 spun. Both cars restarted, but the #4 retired soon after.
The collision benefited Simone Riccitelli in the #7 Ligier JS P4 and Mihnea Stefan in the #48 as they pulled away from the rest of the field. The #7 was in the lead, with the #48 in its rear-view mirrors. There was little in it between Italian as they swapped positions several times. Behind them, the #75 of RLR MSport (Ian Aguilera), the #17 from Pegasus Racing (Dimitri Enjalbert), and the #60 battled for third place.
While the pit window had already opened, the #7 JS P4 stopped several times on the track. It eventually managed to restart and to make its mandatory pit stop. The window closed, the #48 of Mihnea Stefan was first, the #60 with Bernardo Pinheiro second. It was followed by the #75 (Haytham Qarajouli), the #17 (Anthony Nahra) and the #50 (Steve Zacchia). The #50 moved up several places to third. But it was still being threatened by the #75 and the #1 from Team Virage (Kevin Madsen). The Polish team had one scare after another, with a spin by the #60 and another by the #1.
With less than three minutes to go, the #7 Ligier JS P4 with Jacopo Mazza driving stopped in the pit straight, causing the safety car to come out. The gap between the #48 and the #60 was closing fast, but Mihnea Stefan kept a cool head. The championship leader secured his third win of the season, while his teammates in the #60, Bernardo Pinheiro and George King, made it another one-two finish for the team (with George King setting the fastest lap of the race in 2:00.083s). The #50 of Les Deux Arbres, driven by Louis Rossi and Steve Zacchia, finished third overall and first of the PRO-AM class.
The American duo of Team Virage’s #1, Kevin Madsen and Lance Fenton, finished top of the AM class.
Minhea Stefan, Team Virage, #48 Ligier JS P4, winner, race 1:
“It was a really good race. We had a big battle with car #7 [Simone Riccitelli of LR Motorsport]. We are sportsmen so we left each other some space but there was some serious racing there. It felt really good. This is how a race weekend should feel”.
JS2 R category: Julien Lemoine (ANS Motorsport) claims his maiden overall victory
The #10 RLR MSport Ligier JS2 R, with Maximus Mayer, put in an excellent first stint. The GT remained in the lead, putting several seconds between himself and Julien Schell in the #29 of Pegasus Racing and Julien Lemoine in the #42 from ANS Motorsport. The #10 car then received a costly 10-second penalty*.
At half distance, Simon Butler in the #10 Ligier JS2 R remained in the lead after the mandatory pit stop. However, he was passed by the #42 car. David Rodorigo, in the #43 of LR Motorsport, moved back into third place before he overtook the #10 as well.
After finishing runner-up in the season’s first three races, Julien Lemoine in the #42 ANS Motorsport Ligier JS2 R finally took his first-ever overall win at Le Castellet. David Rodorigo in the #43 was second, while the Simon Butler/Maximus Mayer duo in the #10 from RLR MSport finished third, with Maximus Mayer posting the fastest lap in 2:06.742s. They finished top in the PRO-AM class and the #42 in the AM class.
Julien Lemoine, ANS Motorsport, #42 Ligier JS2 R, winner, race 1:
“I feel good. The race went great. I managed to create a small gap in the first part of the race. I cannot tell you what it feltlike when there was a safety car 10 minutes before the finish, when everything gets reset. It’s tough to be in this situation. But I managed to keep some distance with the other competitors until the end so I’m very pleased”.
Race 2 gets underway early this afternoon at 1:20 pm.
For the full results, CLICK HERE.
* for failing to follow the route indicated by the race stewards in the event of running off on the racing surface.