9 May 2018
With the announcement this winter that the Automobile Club de l'Ouest had lent its support to the LMP3 Cup becoming a multi-class Championship, United Autosports became the first entrant into the PT4 category with the brand-new Ligier JS P4 at Donington Park in April.
Experienced driver Matt Bell undertook solo driving duties in the car all weekend, running quickly and faultlessly to open its account in the UK. On and off track the car turned heads with its futuristic looks and glorious engine sounds, which boded well for a customer test that same week.
“I don’t think it could have gone any better,” said Richard Dean, Managing Director of Car Sales at Ligier UK and co-owner of United Autosports. “We were looking for reliability over a full weekend and we ran it hard in the races. The pace was exactly where we wanted it to be: substantial enough but not too big between the two categories.
“We sold a car straight away from the test the week after, so obviously it’s reassuring that someone tried it and bought it. The development car was just that, the focus wasn’t on the details, so there’s work to do as we go into production. We expect the first cars to start rolling off the assembly line for the first of July and it’s about what the market demands and how many cars Ligier can sell.”
“I was pleasantly surprised with the car,” said Bell. “It felt at home. It's the same tub as the JS P3 so I was comfortable in it straight away. It doesn’t have a clutch pedal, so you pull away in first gear, but it made it really easy in the pits. On the circuit, it handled a bit similar to the JS P3 but without as much aero, so it wasn’t as intimidating. I was able to get on the pace straight away so full marks all around.
“The GT4 market has expanded enormously, so anyone looking to come across from there will find this the perfect transition car without it being too daunting or too intimidating. You get the feel for a faster, stiffer chassis, but it doesn’t have the scary levels of power you get in the JS P3.
“With better weather on day one, we’d have been down to 3.5s from the LMP3 pace which is 7-8s at somewhere like Silverstone. That is the ideal sort of time gap – not close enough to overlap between classes but close enough to be a quick racing car that needs to be driven properly.
“We had some potential customers test the car a few days afterwards. They seemed to enjoy it and were making the right noises and there’s been positive feedback so far. There’ll be further opportunities to try the car this month. The ideal scenario is that there’ll be five or six cars by the final round of the LMP3 Cup and there’ll be the perfect two-class championship going forward.”
Parties interested in testing the car can do so on May 30th at Snetterton or July 10th at Spa Francorchamps, with further dates to be confirmed in the UK, at Portimao, and Abu Dhabi. For further information contact Callum McDougall at [email protected].