Spa Heat, Qualifying: Team Virage, RLR MSport and ANS Motorsport rise to the challenge despite the rain

Day one from Spa-Francorchamps continued on Friday, 22 September, with the two qualifying sessions marked by unpredictable weather, which disrupted the running of the second session. Despite the challenges posed by the rain, the #48 Ligier JS P4 of Team Virage with Mihnea Stefan came out on top with a brace of pole positions. In the GT category, Maximus Mayer in the #10 RLR MSport Ligier JS2 R secured pole position for Race 1, while Julien Lemoine in the #42 ANS Motorsport car took pole for Race 2.

JS P4 category: Six pole positions for the #48 of Team Virage

The rain arrived on the circuit on the formation lap of the first qualifying session. Mihnea Stefan set the fastest lap in 2:28.050s. In the PRO-AM class, the #50 Ligier JS P4 set the best time in session 1, with Steve Zacchia in 2:30.009s. In the AM class, Yuki Tanaka in the #16 Pegasus Racing Ligier JS P4 set the fastest time in 2:36.418s.

During the second qualifying session, torrential rain fell on the circuit. The session was interrupted for the first time after the #16 of Pegasus Racing went off the track. The session resumed, but an incident of the #75 of RLR MSport brought the session to an early end. The drivers only had one or two laps, at best, to set a time.

Mihnea Stefan secured his third double pole position of the season with the #48 Team Virage Ligier JS P4 (2:41.931s). In the PRO-AM class, the #50 Ligier JS P4 was once again the quickest, with Louis Rossi posting a lap of 3:07.503s. Kevin Madsen (#1 from Team Virage) was the fastest in the AM class, with a lap of 2:55.445s.

Mihnea Stefan, Team Virage, #48 Ligier JS P4, pole positions, race 1 & race 2:

“With the weather changes we experienced today, it felt like three different cars, between this morning’s free practice and this afternoon’s two qualifying sessions. For the second qualifying session it was just pure luck. We managed to put in a good lap at the start and that’s what kept us out front. It was really difficult with all the rain. It’s the first time I’ve driven the Ligier JS P4 in so much rain. I really like the car. It also performs very well in the rain.”

JS2 R category: A pole position each for the #10 from RLR MSport and the #42 of ANS Motorsport

Maximus Mayer, driving the #10 RLR MSport Ligier JS2 R in the PRO-AM class, claimed his fifth pole position of the season in session 1 with a time of 2:38.321s. He is the only driver to have taken pole position on every circuit on the calendar. The #42 Ligier JS2 R of ANS Motorsport and Julien Lemoine set the fastest time in the AM class in 2:41.685s.

In session 2, Julien Lemoine claimed the overall and AM class pole position with a time of 3:01.563s. The #10 Ligier JS2 R with Simon Butler led the way in the PRO-AM class with a lap of 3:07.265s.

Maximus Mayer, RLR MSport, #10 Ligier JS2 R, pole position, race 1:

“Beginning of qualifying was a little bit tricky. We were kind of expecting the rain, looking at all the weather telemetry we had access to. We were just on the edge of changing from slick to wet tyres. But we started on slick tyres. This is a risk we took. It started to rain on the formation lap. We were already struggling during lap 1. For lap 2, tyre pressure was there. I knew this would be the only window I had to do the lap time and I managed to clinch the pole position on lap 2. I’m really happy with the job I’ve done. Simon Butler did an amazing job too in qualifying 2 in the rain [third time overall and best lap time in PRO-AM]. He keeps improving every time he gets in the car. Now, it’s all eyes on tomorrow. Race 1 might be wet, might be dry. You never know in Spa! It’s gonna be a very special race day”.

Julien Lemoine, ANS Motorsport, #42 Ligier JS2 R, pole position, race 2:

“It’s difficult to describe this second qualifying session. Walls of water, lots of spray, not much visibility, we had no reference points on the track. It’s the first time I’ve driven by instinct. I’m delighted to have won pole position, because I took a lot of risks to get there. The conditions were really difficult.”

Join us tomorrow, Saturday, 23 September, for the two one-hour races of the Spa Heat. Race 1 will start at 9:05 am, and race 2 at 12:55 pm. Both races will be streamed live on the Ligier European Series Facebook page and YouTube channel.

For the results of qualifying 1, CLICK HERE.

For the results of qualifying 2, CLICK HERE.