European Le Mans Series, Michelin Le Mans Cup and Ligier European Series were on the schedule of last month’s event at the Paul Ricard circuit in Le Castellet.
For the ELMS second round of the season, 2022 Le Mans Cup champion Alexander Mattschull joined us to replace Rob Hodes – yet to recover from his accident in Barcelona – on our LMP2 Pro/Am, while the third round for Michelin Le Mans Cup and Ligier European Series.
Thursday’s collective gave the opportunity to get a first experience in extremely hot conditions. Alexander, who was driving a LMP2 for the first time, acquainted quickly and with ease to his new environment.
It was Friday when the action really started, when the FP sessions and qualifications for the upcoming races were held. A satisfying day for Virage, as in MLMC the Gerbi/Henrion duo set the fastest time of the day, while our three JSP4 scored a 1-2-3 in qualifying for the Ligier European Series second race, Mihnea Stefan leading Pinheiro/King and Fenton/Madsen. As for ELMS, the drivers also had a very good pace, finishing in P5 and P6.
Both Ligier European Series races were successful for us on Saturday. Mihnea Stefan winning both, while Bernardo Pinheiro and George King completing a 4th Virage 1-2 in five races. In the AM category, Lance Fenton and Kevin Madsen scored their 4th victory of the year, consolidating their lead in the standings, but also completing a fantastic Virage 1-2-3 in the general classification. In Michelin Le Mans Cup, starting from 5th on the grid, the #16 of Gerbi/Henrion stormed through the field to grab its second victory of the season, increasing its championship lead. On the #59, a fantastic first stint by Oscar Bittar saw him climbing the field up to 7th place, before a big speed blown up tyre consecutive to a contact with a GT forced us to retire the car.
Sunday was ELMS race day. In LMP2 Pro/Am, after a great first hour seeing Mattschull run as high as third, a safety-car procedure right in our pitstop window forced us to add another stop, dropping us to P8, before the strong pace of Tatiana Calderon and Ian Rodriguez allowed us to come back to P6. In LMP3, the Ligier #8 of Adcock/Jensen/Espirito Santo, qualified P4 by the young Portuguese driver, was in the game for a top 5, until a flat spot consecutive to a spin made us loose pace, the trio bringing back the car in 8th place.
The next ELMS event will take place in Motorland at the end of August, with once again the three categories competing.