NM Racing Team heads ultra-tight opening practice at Misano

NM Racing Team heads ultra-tight opening practice at Misano

+ Provisional Result: Free Practice, Misano

NM Racing Team drivers Lluc Ibañez and Alexandre Papadopulos set the pace in opening practice at Misano, the pair’s Mercedes-AMG leading a top five split by just 0.1 seconds. 

A race winner here in 2022, and holder of the qualifying lap record, Spanish driver Ibañez kept up his form at the Italian track by putting the #15 Mercedes-AMG out front early on, setting a 1:41.052s on his sixth lap.

A mid-session red flag to clear cars from the gravel left 35 minutes on the clock when running resumed, and that sparked a tight fight across the second half.

First, Roberto Faria moved the GPA Racing Aston Martin Vantage Evo he shares with Baudouin Detout into second, 0.08s off the best from Ibañez, and then Benjamin Lessennes improved in the L’Espace Bienvenue BMW M4 to put himself and Ricardo van der Ende 0.07s behind the NM Mercedes-AMG.

Lukas Mayer and Denis Bulatov were fourth overall and fastest in Pro-Am in the EastSide Motorsport Mercedes-AMG, themselves only 0.084s off top spot, and 0.001s away from Faria’s best. Wimmer Werk Motorsport took fifth with Ivan Ekelchik and Nicolaj Möller-Madsen being the last car to finish within 0.1s of the outright best time. Their Porsche also made it four different brands inside the top five.

Alex Denning and Tom Emson were sixth in their Elite Motorsport McLaren Artura, ahead of Jem Hepworth and Cameron Lawrence, who put the #81 RAFA Racing Team McLaren a strong seventh overall. Josh Rattican and Tom Lebbon were eighth in the other Elite McLaren ahead of Circuit Paul Ricard race winners Raphael Rennhofer and Hugo Sasse in the #99 PROsport Aston Martin. Jon Lancater and Rafael Martinez capped a great session for the RAFA team by rounding out the top 10 overall, while championship leaders Etienne Cheli and Enzo Joulié were 11th in their Matmut Évolution Toyota.

After a dominant weekend in France, the Schumacher CLRT Alpine of Laurent Hurgon and Pascal Huteau started strong again, even if it took a while. A late improvement from Hurgon put the car top in the closing minutes, ahead of Andy Cantu and Dilantha Malagamuwa’s NM Racing Team Mercedes-AMG, with GPA Racing crew Kevin Jimenez and Florent Grizaud rounding out the top three in class in their Aston Martin.

Pre-Qualifying at Misano is scheduled to begin at 17:40 local time.