Red Bull Ring Heat: The drivers experiment with wet and dry conditions on day one in Austria

Red Bull Ring Heat: The drivers experiment with wet and dry conditions on day one in Austria

15.05.2021: Round two of the Ligier European Series began on Friday at the green and undulating Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria. The day started with a free practice session that was a tall order for the drivers and, which saw the #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage Li

Round two of the Ligier European Series began on Friday at the green and undulating Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, Austria.

 

The day started with a free practice session that was a tall order for the drivers and, which saw the #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage Ligier JS P4 and the #24 Orhès Racing Ligier JS2 R atop the timesheets. The rain came in the afternoon during the two qualifying sessions.


 The #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage Ligier JS P4 and the #53 M Racing Ligier JS2 R took pole for race one in their respective categories. The #33 Les Deux Arbres Ligier JS P4 and the #24 Orhès Racing Ligier JS2 R secured the pole positions for race two.



Free Practice: the #23 HP Racing and the #24 Orhès Racing lead the way



Two yellow flags caused by off-circuit excursions of the #17 Arctic Energy and the #13 COOL Racing Ligier JS2 Rs marked the free practice session in Austria.


The Red Bull Ring track is a complicated circuit for drivers to figure out. While some were only issued warnings for exceeding the track limits a few times, the #53 M Racing Ligier JS2 R and the #24 Orhès Racing Ligier JS2 R both received a five-minute stop and go penalty for recidivism.


In the Ligier JS P4 category, the #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage car, driven by Jacopo Faccioni and Alessandro Cicognani, confirmed the performance shown in the season-opening meeting in Barcelona with a session-best time of 1:37.586s.



Throughout the session, it kept a gap of more than a second over its direct competitor, the #33 Les Deux Arbres, with Jacques Nicolet at the controls. But in the final minute, Jacques Nicolet was overtaken by the second Les Deux Arbres car, the #34 driven by Patrice Lafargue. Only 0. 395 seconds separated them at the end of the session.
 


The #24 Orhès Racing car driven by Mathieu Martins and Olivier Pernaut was the car to beat in the Ligier JS2 R category with a lap of 1:39.921s. Next on the timing screen was its main rival, the #53 M Racing with Natan Bihel behind the wheel, which in turn was followed by the team's sister car, the #69 with Laurent Millara.



The #95 CTF Performance Ligier JS2 R and drivers Nicolas Beraud and Gilles Poret who replaces Fabien Delaplace for this round.




Qualifying: temperamental weather conditions and pole positions contested in Austria


The #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage Ligier JS P4 driven by Alessandro Cicognani, kept its momentum going, taking pole position in the first qualifying session with the best time in 1:37.726s. The #33 of Les Deux Arbres with Jacques Nicolet was second.
 


With the best time of 1:40.374s, the #53 M Racing Ligier JS2 R driven by Natan Bihel edged out Mathieu Martins in the #24 Orhès Racing entry for the pole. Only 0.25s separated the two silver drivers. The #95 CTF Performance car will start race one from third on the grid thanks to a strong showing from Nicolas Beraud.

 The rain was more prevalent in the second qualifying session, particularly at the top of the circuit, which affected the classifications. In the Ligier JS P4 category, the #23 HP Racing by Monza Garage car driven by Jacopo Faccioni fell behind the #33 Les Deux Arbres car driven by Jacques Nicolet, after dominating part of the session. The gentleman driver will start race two from the pole after setting the best time of 1:47.523s.
 


The battle was very close in the Ligier JS2 R. With the best time of 1:51.143s, the #24 Orhès Racing car driven by Olivier Pernaut claimed the pole for race two. Today’s pole position is the second of the season for the Orhès Racing team and the first for the bronze driver.


Natan Bihel, in the #53 M Racing Ligier JS2 R, qualified second ahead of the second Orhès Racing car, the #25 driven by F1 commentator and gentleman driver Julien Fébreau, who set an impressive time for his debut in the Ligier JS2 R and the series.



Alessandro Cicognani, HP Racing by Monza Garage, #23 Ligier JS P4, Pole Position Qualifying 1
:
"I was expecting to take the pole position because I ran well this morning. I tried to take advantage of the first few laps when the track was still dry to set a good time. Unfortunately, I crossed the white line, and my time was disallowed. Then it started to rain, and I had to do another lap in slightly more difficult conditions. But in the end, I managed to do the same time, and I am very satisfied. "


Natan Bihel, M Racing, #53 Ligier JS2 R, Pole Position Qualifying 1:

"As the track marshals were watching me closely, I played it safe, and it worked out fine. The other car [Laurent Millara's #69] had laps nullified due to track limits. So, it paid off, and that was good. In the second qualifying session, Olivier was two-hundredths better. It's not much, but it is significant. Congratulations to him, and we'll see how it goes in the race.”



Jacques Nicolet, Les Deux Arbres, #33 Ligier JS P4, Pole Position Qualifying 2:

"One-third of the circuit was soaked, and everything else was more or less dry. But there was the constant uncertainty of having to find several wet areas on each lap. I wanted to test the rain tyres because I had never driven in the rain and with rain tyres on this car. It paid off because, I set the fastest time. "



Olivier Pernaut, Orhès Racing, #24 Ligier JS2 R, Pole Position Qualifying 2:

"I am so happy! It started to rain halfway through qualifying, half of the track was soaked, and the other half was essentially dry. As we were still on slick tyres, it was complicated. But I'm pleased because we used a different strategy compared to others, and it worked."



The first one-hour race on Saturday, 15 May, will start at 11:50 am. Race two will get underway at 4 pm.
Both races will be broadcast live on the Ligier European Series Facebook page and YouTube channel.

 

- Ligier, photos DPPI

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15.05.2021 / MaP

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