Ligier JS P2 revives the name of the legend on the way to conquer Le Mans
The Ligier JS P2 is a racing car, designed under the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) regulations, which debuted in 2014 and since then it competed at the FIA World Endurance Championship (including Le Mans 24h race), European Le Mans Series, Asian Le Mans Series and IMSA SportsCar Championship.
Le Mans return for Ligier after 39 years
The JS P2 is built by French manufacturer Onroak Automotive, which is the manufacturing division of the Le Mans-based OAK Racing team, owned by Jacques Nicolet. The Onroak Automotive was founded in 2012 and for the 2014 season the company made an agreement with racing legend and former F1 team owner Guy Ligier to build a car for Le Mans with his name on it.
Back in 1996, the Ligier JS 43 was the last Formula 1 car of the Equipe Ligier. In the meantime, the various prototypes (JS 49, JS 51 and JS53) were built for different competitions and then the JS P2 came in 2014, as the first Ligier car prepared for Le Mans after 39 years since Ligier JS2 finished second overall.
JS P2 is named after Ligier’s close friend Jo Schlesser
The JS P2 follows the naming scheme of all Ligier cars before being named after French racing driver and Ligier’s close friend Jo Schlesser, who was killed during the 1968 French Grand Prix.
Onroak initially planned to develop an LMP1 car but after all, the company concentrated on the LMP2 category. The closed-cockpit car was the first car entirely designed inside the company. The design and technology are close to the LMP1 cars (carbon monocoque) but it had to meet ACO’s (Automobile Club de l’Ouest) limitations to be eligible for the LMP2 class at Le Mans 24-hour race.
The car is there, the engine is your choice
The car was designed and constructed to utilize few available engines in the class: Nissan and Judd naturally aspirated V8 engines and Honda turbocharged 2.8-litre V6 engines. In both cases, the engine of the 900-kg car had about 500 hp.
The various setup options of aerodynamics and downforce are available, depending on tracks and races. All the variants are using X-Trac six-speed sequential gearboxes with the semi-automatic paddle shift system.
2014 – podium in the Le Mans debut
The JS P2 had an initial test in March 2014 and it was ready for racing at 2014 24 hours of Le Mans in June. At 2014 Le Mans race, the #46 Ligier JS P2 of Thiriet by TDS Racing finished second in the LMP2 class, driven by Pierre Thiriet, Ludovic Badey and Tristan Gommendy. The French team was using the car with the Nissan 4.5L V8 engine.
Two OAK Racing’s cars (#35 and #33) had two different engines. The #35 with Nissan’s engine, driven by Nissan’s official drivers Jann Mardenborough, Alex Brundle and Mark Shulzhitskiy, finished 5th in LMP2 class, while the #33 car was powered by Honda engine and driven by three Chinese drivers crossed the finish line in the seventh place.
Maiden victory for Nissan powered JS P2 at Fuji Speedway
For the rest of the 2014 FIA WEC season, the G-Drive Racing team, who was using Onroak’s Morgan LMP2 prototype since then, switched to the Ligier JS P2 and earned five consecutive pole positions, winning two races (at Fuji and Shanghai).
The car had an American debut in the September’s IMSA United Sportscar Championship race at Circuit of the Americas, where OAK Racing’s Alex Brundle scored the pole position and the team finished second at the end of the race.
2015 – World championship title for G-Drive Racing and Ligier
After debut season, with a podium at Le Mans and two FIA WEC victories, more teams purchased Ligier JS P2 for 2015 season. At the World Endurance Championship, G-Drive Racing campaigned two cars (#26 and #28) and won five of eight races. Roman Rusinov, Julien Canal and Sam Bird were the winners four times in the #26 car and they became the LMP2 champions.
Besides five wins, Ligier JS P2 missed the victory at Le Mans. In the 2015 edition of the greatest endurance races, G-Drive Racing’s crews finished 3rd and 4th in the LMP2 class. The other teams that appeared at Circuit de la Sarthe with Ligier JS P2 were OAK Racing, Krohn Racing and Extreme Speed Motorsports. OAK Racing had two Nissan-powered cars, ESM was using Honda engine while Krohn Racing was the first team to use 3.6L V8 Judd engine.
No wins outside FIA WEC in 2015
In the 2015 European Le Mans Series, Krohn Racing and Algarve Pro Racing were using Ligier JS P2 cars, but without notable results. In the 2015 IMSA United Sportscar Championship, Michael Shank Racing competed the full season with Honda-powered Ligier JS P2. The most notable result was the pole position at 24 hours of Daytona. Later in the season, Oswaldo Negri and John Pew scored three podiums in the #60 Ligier.
2016 – ten cars in three championships
In 2016 season, Tequila Patron Extreme Speed Motorsports became the most successful team with the Ligier JS P2 car, taking two consecutive wins at the biggest American endurance races that are the part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – the 24 hours of Daytona in January and 12 hours of Sebring in March.
The winning drivers with the #2 ESM car in both races were Pipo Derani, Scott Sharp, Johannes van Overbeek and Ed Brown. Oswaldo Negri and John Pew added one more victory with Michael Shank Racing’s #60 car, winning at Laguna Seca.
Another podium, but no victory at Le Mans
In the 2016 World Endurance Championship, the reigning champions G-Drive Racing changed the car and switched to Oreca 05 and Gibson 015S prototypes, while Extreme Speed Motorsports and RGR Sport by Morand were using Nissan-powered Ligiers.
In the first round of the championship, the 6 hours of Silverstone, the #43 RGR car of Ricardo Gonzalez, Bruno Senna and Filipe Albuquerque, scored one more world championship victory for Ligier, ahead of second-placed ESM Ligier. At 2016 Le Mans race, Signatech Alpine took the LMP2 victory while RGR and ESM crews completed the podium.
Six JS P2 cars in the European Le Mans Series
The biggest grid of Ligiers is in the European Le Mans Series, with six teams entering the 2016 season with the JS P2 cars, combining Nissan’s and Judd’s engines. The teams are defending champions Greaves Motorsport, Krohn Racing, IDEC Sport Racing, Algarve Pro Racing, Panis Barthez Competition and SO24! by Lombard Racing.
The new JS P217 is ready for the 2017 season
The world’s racing legend Guy Ligier died on August 23, 2015, but his name is living through the high-tech racing cars with an aim to score victories as much as possible, with one special target – the top podium spot at Le Mans. In three attempts with Ligier JS P2, the target stayed too far but the new chance could come in June 2017, with the next generation JS P217 car.