Portimão Heat, Day 2: Double victory for Team Virage, CTF Performance and RLR MSport on top of the JS2 R podium

Portimão Heat, Day 2: Double victory for Team Virage, CTF Performance and RLR MSport on top of the JS2 R podium

16.10.2022: The Ligier European Series drivers gave it their all in the last two races of the 2022 season at Portimão. Gillian Henrion in the #16 Ligier JS P4 (Team Virage) gave his sports prototype rivals one last run for their money with his fifth double win in Por



The Ligier European Series drivers gave it their all in the last two races of the 2022 season at Portimão. Gillian Henrion in the #16 Ligier JS P4 (Team Virage) gave his sports prototype rivals one last run for their money with his fifth double win in Portugal.


Gentleman and rookie drivers shared the top spot in the Ligier JS2 R category: Laurent Piguet and Fabien Delaplace in the #96 CTF Performance car won for the second time this season in race 1. Austrian rookie Horst Felix Felbemayr in the #40 RLR MSport car scored the victory in Race 2, the maiden win of his car racing career.
 




Race 1: Team Virage and CTF Performance take the Saturday morning laurels



The Ligier European Series drivers were in fine form for race one at the Portimão circuit. The #16 Team Virage Ligier JS P4 takes win number ten of 2022, with a 50-second margin of victory. In the Ligier JS2 R category, the bronze drivers in the #96 CTF Performance car secured their second win of the season.
 




Ligier JS P4: Gold for Gillian Henrion



Starting from pole position, Gillian Henrion in the #16 Team Virage Ligier JS P4 gave his rivals no chance and took off at the start. George King in the #23 Monza Garage car had moved up from fifth to second place but lost position to Mihnea Stefan in the #44 Smart Driving entry and Dimitri Enjalbert in the #17 of Pegasus Racing. In sixth place, Natan Bihel (#53 M Racing) aggressively attacked and passed Simone Riccitelli (#3 LR Motorsport).


Several duels broke out. The second-place #44 Ligier JS P4 was attacked by the #17. Further behind, the #23 had to defend fourth place against the #53. While Natan Bihel managed to overtake George King, Dimitri Enjalbert had a tough time with Mihnea Stefan, who was vigorously defending his position. The action heated up, and the two began to make contact, with the #17 getting the advantage, which now had to protect its position from the #53.



In the first 30 minutes of the race, #23 and #3 constantly swapped positions. George King and Simone Riccitelli were neck and neck for fifth place, then fourth after the #44 went off the track. The latter car re-joined the race in seventh place. While the two rookies continued to thrash it out, the #50 of Les Deux Arbres driven by Raymond Narac, came to the fore. George King spun and dropped three places just before the opening of the pit stop window.
 





Tough battles in the sports prototypes category


After the pitstop cycle, the #16 Ligier JS P4 was back on point. Anthony Nahra in the #17 was second, followed by Nicola Neri in the #3 and Raphaël Narac in the #50. José Maria Marreiros (who took over from Bernardo Pinheiro) had a minor scare when he spun the Team Virage #43 car. Natan Bihel in the #53 went from fifth to second in just a few laps. While the #23 Monza Garage car tried to make up ground in the middle of the field, it had to contend with the vigorous defence of the #44.


Mihnea Stefan had unsettled business. The Romanian driver of the #44 Ligier JS P4 made his way back up the order to third place five minutes before the end of the race. The #17 received a four-second stop-and-go penalty for not respecting the minimum pit stop time and dropped to eighth place. In a bold mood, George King in #23 took on Raphäel Narac in #50, but the British driver's risky manoeuvre caused him to lose control of his car.



And victory number ten for Gillian Henrion! The 2022 Ligier JS P4 Champion took the chequered flag 50 seconds ahead of Natan Bihel (#53 M Racing) and with the fastest lap of the race in 1:45.462s. Smart Driving's recruit, Mihnea Stefan, drove an excellent race to complete the podium. The Narac father-son team in the #50 Les Deux Arbres finished fourth.
 






Ligier JS2 R: The #96 CTF Performance bronze duo wins again


In the Ligier JS2 R category, RLR MSport's #75 poleman Haytham Qarajouli held on to the lead at the start. But in the #11 TM Evolution car, Simon Escallier (Alain Grand's team-mate for this round in Portimão and an LMP3 competitor) picked up two positions to settle in behind the leader.


While the #75 Ligier JS2 R still led the GT field, the #96 CTF Performance car with Fabien Delaplace was second ahead of the #40 RLR MSport car driven by Horst Felix Felbermayr and the #11. Laurent Millara in the #69 (M Racing) was in a scrap with Cédric Oltramare in the #4 (COOL Racing) for fifth place.


Only six-tenths of a second separated the #40 Ligier JS2 R and the #11. Simon Escallier managed to overtake his Austrian rival. As Haytham Qarajouli was about to pit and hand over to Martin Rich, he spun on his last lap, handing the category lead to the #96 CTF Performance.
 





Advantage to the #96 CTF Performance



With the pit stops completed, Laurent Piguet in the #96 Ligier JS2 R was ahead of Alain Grand in the #11 and Horst Felix Felbermayr in the #40. The young Austrian passed the gentleman driver for second place, but the leader was 14 seconds ahead. The #11, the #4 of COOL Racing and the #69 of M Racing were vying for third place in the category. But Laurent Millara, second in the provisional general classification, took the spot.



The CTF Performance team did not hide its joy as the #96 crossed the finish line, taking its second victory of the season with the #96 after race one at Spa-Francorchamps. RLR MSport's #40 finished second ahead of the M Racing #69, which lost its advantage over the #96 in the race for the runner-up position in the Ligier JS2 R championship. RLR MSport's #75, which retired at half-distance, set the fastest lap of the race in 1:52.644s.
 





Gillian Henrion, Team Virage, Ligier JS P4 #16, winner race 1:


“The first race went very well. We got a great start and then we opened a gap, that we kept increasing until the chequered flag. We definitely dominated this race."





Fabien Delaplace, CTF Performance, Ligier JS2 R #96, winner race 1 in the Ligier JS2 R category:


"I really wanted to get a strong start to stay in contact with the leaders and maintain the pace of the silver cars, which I managed to do! I was even ahead at the hairpin corner. But I got caught up afterwards. I then used Haytham Qarajouli to keep a steady pace and open up as much of a gap as possible so that Laurent could then maintain this difference. We really wanted to get a podium result and finish ahead of Laurent [Millara]. That was the main goal, and we did it!"




Laurent Piguet, CTF Performance, Ligier JS2 R #96 winner race 1 in the Ligier JS2 R category:


"I am so happy. We would be pleased with less! Especially as this is my first season. We didn't make any mistakes, no contact. And the atmosphere was very nice. I had the chance to share the car with a driver who taught me a lot. This allowed us to have a very good season and to end the season on a high note with a second victory and to finish runner-up in the Ligier JS2 R category."




For the complete results of race 1, CLICK HERE.


 






Race 2: Team Virage and RLR MSport secure the final race wins of the season



With the final race of the year, the curtain has come down on the 2022 Ligier European Series season at Portimão on Saturday. Gillian Henrion and Team Virage (Ligier JS P4) added to a near perfect season with an eleventh win from twelve races. In the Ligier JS2 R category, Horst Felix Felbermayr in the #40 Ligier JS2 R of RLR MSport takes his first victory in car racing.
 




Ligier JS P4: Gillian Henrion on the top step of the podium for the eleventh time!



Just like the start of Race 1 this morning, Gillian Henrion in the #16 Team Virage Ligier JS P4 left his rivals no chance and pulled away from the start. The #23 Monza Garage car driven by George King moved from fourth to second place behind the leader. The duel for third place commenced between the #53 of M Racing (Natan Bihel) and the #44 of Smart Driving (Mihnea Stefan). Very determined since the beginning of the weekend, the series newcomer, Mihnea Stefan, got the upper hand on Natan Bihel and passed him for the position. It was now George King's turn to be pressured by his Romanian rival.


A reckless move by the #44 Ligier JS P4 destabilised George King, who dropped back one place. A few metres behind, Natan Bihel seized the opportunity to overtake the British driver. It was then the #50 with Raphaël Narac aboard (Les Deux Arbres) that came dangerously close to the #23. The driver of the Les Deux Arbres car found himself in the sights of Andrei Vajda in the #85 Smart Driving entry and lost a position.


Further back, former motorbike racer Louis Rossi (#33 Les Deux Arbres) overtook the #17 Pegasus Racing (Anthony Nahra) and moved into ninth place. But at the mid-way point of the race, Louis Rossi had made contact with the #11 TM Evolution Ligier JS2 R and spun.
 





A yellow flag was shown as the pitstop window opened after the #4 COOL Racing Ligier JS2 R driven by Cédric Oltramare parked along the side of the track. The sports prototypes made their pit stops, and the #16 came out in the lead, with the #53 of M Racing and the #44 of Smart Driving behind it. A safety car period was needed, with 20 minutes remaining to retrieve the #4, which retired.



The Ligier JS P4s and JS2 Rs were in a tight pack for the restart, with 14 minutes left on the clock. The #53 Ligier JS P4 took advantage of the presence of the GT cars to pull away from the #44. Behind them, the #50 and the #85 made contact. The #23 made the most of the situation to gain a position and go on to finish fifth, while the #50 had to stop in the pits to mend a puncture.



Then, everything accelerated: the #44 Ligier JS P4 got the better of the #53. Behind them, the #85, the #3 LR Motorsport car with Simone Riccitelli and the #23 were on the lookout. The #85 spun as it attempted to pass the #53 on the inside. Natan Bihel narrowly avoided contact but went off the track, giving Simone Riccitelli a clear path to move past him. The #17, driven by Dimitri Enjalbert, took fifth place.
 


Gillian Henrion was the first to see the chequered flag, adding the eleventh victory to his impressive record. He also set the fastest lap of the race in 1:46.063s. Simone Riccitelli and Nicola Neri scored their second podium result of 2022 after their second-place finish in the opening round at Le Castellet. Natan Bihel completed the podium in third place.
 






Ligier JS2 R: Horst Felix Felbermayr scores his maiden victory in car racing




Horst Felix Felbermayr, in the #40 RLR MSport Ligier JS2 R, started from the GT category pole but immediately came up against a hard-charging Cédric Oltramare in the #4 COOL Racing entry. The Swiss driver soon overtook his Austrian counterpart. But Horst Felix Felbermayr, with three podiums to his name this season, was determined to win the last race of the campaign. A few minutes later, he was back in the category lead. Laurent Millara in the #69 of M Racing was third ahead of Martin Rich in the #75 of RLR MSport.


The #11 TM Evolution Ligier JS2 R (Alain Grand), the #96 CTF Performance (Laurent Piguet), and the #25 TM Evolution (Freddy Menanteau) battled for fifth place. In the end, it was the #96, winner of race 1, that came out on top. The second CTF Performance car, the #95 with Gilles Poret, came back strongly to take sixth place ahead of the #25.
 




Before the pit stop window opened, the #4 COOL Racing Ligier JS2 R went off the track. This was due to damage caused by contact with the #40 at the start of the race. The #4 was forced to retire. A few minutes earlier, another Ligier JS2 R, the #11 of TM Evolution, dropped out after contact with a Ligier JS P4. After the GT pit cycle was completed, the #40 held onto the race lead, ahead of the #96 and the #75, driven by Haytham Qarajouli. Gilles Poret in #95 was fourth.


The 2022 Ligier JS2 R Champion in the #75 overtook the #96. A few minutes later, the CTF Performance car was penalised with a drive-through for abusing the track limits. It then dropped back to fourth place after losing position to its sister car, the #95. As it could not serve the drive-through, its penalty was added to its time after the race.


Horst Felix Felbermayr in the #40, took the top step of the podium for the first time this season and in his car racing career. Haytham Qarajouli finished second (with the fastest lap of 1:53.408s) ahead of Gilles Poret, who secured his first podium in the Ligier European Series.
 




Gillian Henrion, Team Virage, Ligier JS P4 #16, winner race 2:


“It was a tough race and it was extremely hot. I’m sad that the Ligier European Series is over. I had such a great time. I really enjoyed the Ligier JS P4 and the tracks we raced at”.




Horst Felix Felbermayr, RLR MSport, Ligier JS2 R #40, 96 winner race 2 in the Ligier JS2 R category:
“I started from pole, my first pole position of the season. And then I just drove and focused, improving lap by lap. This is my first win in car racing. I feel really great about it and I look forward to the next one.”



For the full results of Race 2, CLICK HERE.





 


Season three of the championship is over! Crowned Ligier JS P4 Champion at Spa-Francorchamps last September, Gillian Henrion and Team Virage finish ahead of Natan Bihel and M Racing (Ligier JS2 R Champion in 2021) who become runners-up in the Ligier JS P4 category. The top 3 is completed by by George King and Monza Garage.



In the GT category, the Ligier JS2 R title was given to Haytham Qarajouli and RLR MSport in the penultimate round of the season in Belgium. The victory of CTF Performance's #96 at Portimão sees the bronze duo of Fabien Delaplace and Laurent Piguet finish second in the championship. Like in 2021, Laurent Millara and M Racing complete the top 3.
The launch of season four comes on 21 and 22 April 2023!



 


2023 Ligier European Series calendar


Heat 1: 21 - 22 April 2023 - Barcelona, Spain
Heat 2: 5 - 6 May 2023 - Imola, Italy
Heat 3: 4 June 2023 - Circuit des 24 Heures, Le Mans, France
Heat 4: 14 - 15 July 2023 - Le Castellet, France
Heat 5: 22 - 23 September 2023 - Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
Heat 6: 20 - 21 October 2023 - Portimão, Portugal



 Simon Devillepoix ,DPPI Images


Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/portimao-day2-victory-virage-ctf-performance-rlr-msport-js2r-podium---243942.html

16.10.2022 / MaP

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