Race 1 of the weekend got underway on Saturday, 23 September at Spa-Francorchamps. The two championship leaders in their respective categories, Mihnea Stefan in the #48 Ligier JS P4 (Team Virage) and Julien Lemoine in the #42 Ligier JS2 R (ANS Motorsport), put in a clean performance to win in style.
JS P4 category: Win number six for the #48 Team Virage
Pole-sitter Mihnea Stefan in the #48 Ligier JS P4 held on to his advantage at the start of the race. Dimitri Enjalbert in the #17 from Pegasus Racing put in a perfect start from his third-place starting position to overtake Simone Riccitelli in the #7 of LR Motorsport. The Frenchman then challenged his Romanian counterpart, who resisted. The #48 and #17 were neck and neck and even made contact, but Mihnea Stefan held onto the lead. The leaders set a pace that the third-placed #7 could not match. A few minutes later, the #11 spun at Blanchimont, got stuck in the gravel trap and retired, which resulted in a safety car period.
The race resumed some ten minutes later. The #48 Ligier JS P4 closed the gap to the #17, which was caught by the #7. Behind them, Steve Zacchia in the #50 Les Deux Arbres and Haytham Qarajouli in the #75 RLR MSport battled for fourth place. Dimitri Enjalbert and Simone Riccitelli were in a battle for second place when contact caused the #17 to spin. Both cars suffered damage. While Simone Riccitelli was second, Dimitri Enjalbert dropped to seventh place. The #7 received a drive-through penalty.
The pit stop window opened, and the #48 Ligier JS P4 was one of the first cars to stop. The #7 also went in to serve its penalty. The #50 was the race’s new leader, while the #4 of HPRacing by Monza Garage with Jacopo Faccioni overtook the #75 for second place. The #50 came in for its pit stop, leaving the #4 in the lead. It was the last car to make its mandatory stop and driver change a few seconds before the window closed.
Thanks to the advantage it built early in the race, the #48 Ligier JS P4 regained first place. Mihnea Stefan was 12 seconds up the road from his rivals. Louis Rossi in the #50 was second, followed by Ronnie Valori in the #4, who quickly took the position. Ian Aguilera in the #75 was fourth, followed by Kevin Madsen in the Team Virage #1. At the tail end of the field, the #60 Team Virage Ligier JS P4, driven by Bernardo Pinheiro, gradually climbed up the order to go on to finish fifth.
Mihnea Stefan (#48 Team Virage) added a sixth win to his tally with a more than 24-second margin of victory over Jacopo Faccioni and Ronnie Valori (#4 HPRacing by Monza Garage). The Romanian driver also set the fastest lap of the race in 2:23.894s. Steve Zacchia and Louis Rossi (#50 of Les Deux Arbres) finished third overall and first in the PRO-AM class.
The #1 Team Virage duo of Lance Fenton and Kevin Madsen took top honours in the AM class
Mihnea Stefan, Team Virage, #48 Ligier JS P4, winner, race 1:
“The conditions were really tricky at the beginning of the race. It was early in the morning and the track was damp. It gets very unpredictable when it’s damp. One lap you can have some grip and the next one zero. We had a good strategy and we managed to keep the tyres cool till the end. I’m really happy about it.”
JS2 R category: The #42 takes overall victory for the fourth time this season
Race 1 poleman Maximus Mayer remained in the lead in the #10 RLR MSport Ligier JS2 R. The Spanish driver rapidly opened up an eight-second lead over Julien Lemoine in the #42 from ANS Motorsport. After starting fifth in the category, David Rodorigo in the #43 of LR Motorsport moved up two positions after overtaking the #29 from Pegasus Racing (Thierry Colney) and the #86 of Les Deux Arbres (Jacques Nicolet). The running order was unchanged after the restart. Jacques Nicolet overtook Thierry Colney for fourth place before the pit-stop window opened.
The advantage established by Maximus Mayer was not enough for his teammate Simon Butler in the #10 Ligier JS2 R to hold on to the lead over the #42 car. Julien Lemoine overtook his rival and pulled away with 20 minutes remaining in the race. He took his fourth overall victory of the season and the AM class win with ANS Motorsport. The #10 from RLR MSport (Maximus Mayer and Simon Butler) finished second and won the PRO-AM class. The #86 of Les Deux Arbres (Jacques Nicolet) completed the top three. Giacomo Pollini, in the #43 from LR Motorsport, clocked the fastest lap of the category in 2:34.154s.
Julien Lemoine, ANS Motorsport, #42 Ligier JS2 R, winner, race 1:
“The weather was tricky. The track was wet so it was slippery during the first three laps and difficult to put the tires in temperature. The weather is a very challenging element at Spa. The pitstop with the additional time imposed on Silver drivers helped me to take the lead in the second part of the race.”
Race 2 will get underway this afternoon at 12:55 p.m.
For the results, CLICK HERE.