Ligier JS53 is the younger brother of Ligier JS P2. which is currently piloted by a Russian racer and multi-winner of WEC Roman Rusinov. The prototype was used In Russia mostly as a show car, for example for the second season of the TV show "Racers". Roman was one of the showmen as well as a ring-taxi driver for some lucky guys.
And I had a chance!)
Mechanics somehow managed to fit two racing seats into this limited space too close as in pack of toasts – but they did it. Roman Rusinov, who acted as an instructor, warned me that he has an additional set of pedals (clutch and brake) – like in a training car.
Prior to this, all my race experience of driving non-GTE cars was limited to a few laps in an old Formula 3. Driving sport prototype was my dream. Honestly, I got so overjoyed to take the wheel of a prototype that the next few minutes I just couldn't put my thoughts together :) Roman gave me brief instructions on a sign language to communicate while driving and told me what to do next.
I was told not to touch the clutch, to press brakes softly, not more than one and a half atmosphere (we even had some training to understand the level of effort) and turn the steering wheel softly. Well, seems no problem here.
Before I could regain my senses Roman told me to start, and I stepped on the throttle. I was afraid to press too hard not to bump this beautiful Ligier into pitwall. I would 'loose my face' then. But I didn’t :) :)
As soon as we left the pitlane, Roman showed me his fist. No, he didn’t mean to beat me for something: it was the sign like step on it!!
My first lap was not that easy: I was a bit nervous, but the second one made me breath easier so I could realize that terrific acceleration. Maybe Roman had a different opinion: on the starting-finish line, bored by my feeble speed up, he pressed the throttle paddle to the floor. By placing his foot on mine :)
… That day I could not think of anything else, but that experience. I sat in the airport lounge with a cup of tea, forgetting to drink it with my head still in the clouds.
I planned to do some work on the plane but instead drove endless imaginary laps with Ligier. I realized that I fell in love. And now, till I return to the object of my love, I will not rest.
P.S. Surprisingly this "return" happened quickly. About a month later I was back at the wheel of this wonderful car - but this time on the Moscow Raceway track. Another lap with Roman next to me, and then he said: the exam is over, and I can go on my own. You know, it was awesome.