Alex Peroni throws down the gauntlet in final practice

Alex Peroni set the quickest lap time of the weekend thus far as the MP Motorsport driver topped the final Formula Renault Northern European Cup practice session of the weekend in Pau.

Both Peroni and second-fastest Alexander Smolyar (Tech1 Racing) set their best times on their final runs in searing 25 degree heat in the south of France, but ultimately the Australian edged ahead with a 1:14.328, 0.050 seconds clear.

Renault Sport Academy driver and experienced Pau race-winner Arthur Rougier put in an improved showing to finish third fastest around the 2.7km circuit, ahead of the R-ace GP trio of Charles Milesi, Victor Martins and Logan Sargeant.

Red Bull Junior Neil Verhagen set the best first sector time of anybody, but was ultimately classified seventh ahead of Thomas Neubauer, whilst Frank Bird (all Tech1) improved on his final flying lap to put himself ninth at the chequered flag.

Gabriel Gandulia (R-ace GP) rounded out the top ten, and for the second consecutive session holds the bragging rights as the highest-placed full season NEC driver.

Anders Motorsport’s Doureid Ghattas finished eleventh despite contact with the tyre barrier, over half a second clear of Nicolas Pironneau (Formula Motorsport) behind.

Phil Hill’s car underwent repairs in impressive time between the two practice sessions after earlier contact with the wall, and the karting graduate clocked the 12th fastest time.

Over the years Pau has garnered a reputation for drawing mishaps from even the best in junior single-seater racing, and on this occasion it was Christian Lundgaard’s turn, but despite classifying 14th the Renault Sport Academy driver will undoubtedly be one to watch during the shootout for qualifying tomorrow.

ScoRace Team’s Sharon Scolari, Nicolas Melin (Formula Motorsport) and Lamo Racing Car driver Thierry Malhomme round out the field.

The first qualifying session of the weekend gets underway at 12:05 CEST tomorrow [12th May], with the opening race scheduled for 18:57 that same afternoon.

 

Alex Peroni (#32) said, “Overall, that was a really positive session. It wasn’t as grippy as we’d expected due to the temperature and that made it more difficult, but overall I’m happy with the session and I think there’s even more time to find, which is always good, so we’ll see how things go tomorrow.

“You always have to go into a session confident, if you don’t you’re not going to do well. I’m feeling good but I’m also going to stay grounded and push as hard as I can.”

 

Phil Hill (#6) said, “Unfortunately I crashed during the first practice session on the last lap, but my team did great work to prepare the car in time for the second session. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.

“It’s a great event, and the circuit here in Pau is a lot of fun. It’s really tricky, very bumpy and you have to be quite careful. Tomorrow I want to at least be the best-placed full season NEC driver and to keep on learning; those are the objectives.”