Antonio Fuoco led a one-two placing for Ferrari squad Iron Lynx at the end of Friday’s two 90-minute practice sessions held in preparation for the Paul Ricard 1000km.
Fuoco clocked a time of 1:54.328 behind the wheel of the No. 71 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 to end the day fastest, and was backed up by his James Calado who produced a 1:54.378 in the sister No. 51 car, with five-hundredths of a second separating the pair.
The best numbers from the Pro Iron Lynx Ferraris both came during the Pre-Qualifying session, which came along after Team WRT’s Thomas Neubauer led Free Practice.
Neubauer struck late in the opening session with a 1:54.920 aboard the Silver Cup-class No. 30 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II.
At the time, the Frenchman was the only driver to break the 1m 55s barrier but that target effort was later bettered by the top 13 cars in Pre-Qualifying.
The Ferraris ended up leading the way overall, but they were also strong in Free Practice where Davide Rigon placed second in the No. 71 and Nicklas Nielsen fourth in the No. 51.
Nicky Catsburg ended up third-fastest overall with a time of 1:54.564 in the No. 98 ROWE Racing BMW M4 GT3 that came during Pre-Quali.
Christopher Mies was fourth in the No. 25 Sainteloc Junior Team Audi, while recent Nürburgring 24 winner Kelvin van der Linde completed the top-five in the Endurance Cup points-leading No. 32 WRT Audi.
Gold Cup class leader Arjun Maini ranked sixth in Haupt Racing Team’s No. 5 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.
Free Practice included a 20-minute pause for barrier repairs after Beechdean AMR driver Marco Sorensen crashed at the high-speed Signes left-hander.
A statement from the Beechdean squad confirmed that Sorensen is clear to take part in tomorrow’s race after being checked at the on-site medical center and a local hospital.
Qualifying for the Paul Ricard 1000km starts at 11:30 a.m. CEST (5:30 a.m. ET) on Saturday and consists of three sessions, with average times dictating the starting grid.
Weekend News & Notes
***Isaac Tutumlu has joined Leipert Motorsport’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup squad and is set to complete the season with the German team. Tutumlu started out with GSM Novamarine in GTWC Europe Sprint Cup but has switched to a different Lamborghini team to see out the campaign.
***Stephane Lemeret has been derogated to Bronze* status so that CMR can make a Gold Cup crew involving the Frenchman alongside Antonin Borga, who is Gold-rated, and Nigel Bailly who is Bronze. Lemeret and Bailly did the 3 Hours of Imola in Pro-Am alongside Matthieu De Robiano.
***Earl Bamber is set to drive the Singha Racing Team Porsche 911 GT3 R at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa. Bamber, who won the race in 2020, is absent from Paul Ricard due to clashing IMSA commitments. Matt Payne takes his place in the Earl Bamber Motorsport-assisted Singha entry this weekend and will move over to Grove Racing, which also has EBM support, for the 24-hour race next month.
***The JOTA McLaren 720S GT3 that started the season before being replaced by a fresher car is up for sale, according to team principal Sam Hignett. The British team tested both of its GT3 cars together recently and tried out some potential customers in the model for sale, which is notably the first McLaren 720S GT3 customer race chassis.
***Akkodis ASP claimed five points for the GTWC Europe overall and Silver Cup teams’ championships courtesy of Tommaso Mosca and Raffaele Marciello winning the Silver and overall classes, as the top two finishers in Friday’s Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series race held in the Paul Ricard paddock.
***Prior to the two full-field practice sessions, a wet Bronze driver test took place on Friday morning. Ralf Bohn set the pace with a time of 1:58.167 in Herberth Motorsport’s No. 911 Gold Cup Porsche.