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Panis Leads Misano Free Practice in Sainteloc Audi

Tight at the top in Free Practice as Panis leads a top five separated by 0.156 seconds…

Photo: Jules Benichou/SRO

Sainteloc Junior Team’s Aurelien Panis went quickest overall in Free Practice for this weekend’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS round at Misano.

The Frenchman led the 80-minute session by setting a time of 1:31.625 behind the wheel of the No. 25 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II that he shares with Patric Niederhauser.

Panis hit the top of the 27-car leaderboard during the first half of the session, which was reserved for Silver and Bronze-rated drivers.

The Gold and Platinum-ranked competitors joined in for the final 40 minutes but nobody managed to improve on the Sainteloc driver’s early marker after 15 minutes.

Raffaele Marciello came closest, slotting into second with a 1:31.652 effort that the Swiss ace posted with around six minutes to go.

The driver of the No. 89 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo initially went fifth-fastest before improving to move ahead of the No. 11 Tresor by Car Collection Audi and the No. 32 Team WRT Audi, which leads the Sprint Cup championship standings.

Car Collection’s Simon Gachet settled for third with a time of 1:31.690, just five-thousands of a second quicker than WRT’s Dries Vanthoor.

Thomas Neubauer was next in the No. 30 Silver-class Audi from WRT, as the German marque saw four of its cars reach the outright top five positions, which were covered by just 0.156 seconds.

The No. 56 Dinamic Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R was sixth, followed by the No. 53 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 that leads the Sprint Cup points.

A brief red flag occurred approaching the halfway point in the session when Thomas Drouet spun his No. 87 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG into the gravel at Turn 13.

The No. 888 LP Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo rotated at the same location in the final stages, but this only produced a local yellow flag.

That same car nonetheless managed to set the Pro-Am pace with an earlier 1:32.476 from Jonathan Cecotto, who ranked 16th overall.

The next session is Pre-Qualifying at 2:50 p.m. CEST (8:50 a.m. ET).

RESULTS: Free Practice

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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