It had been 6 years since the ELMS visited Imola. This weekend at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, the French team was in the lead for most of the race, but a Full Course Yellow played against us, finally P4 at the end of the race. An outcome that didn’t reflect the level of performance throughout the event. Panis Racing left Italy with a strong P2 in the championship standings, and is now looking forward to racing the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
After a private testing day on Thursday hindered by a collision with an LMP3, Jamin/Van Uitert/Canal trio followed up the next two days with the free practice sessions.
On Saturday afternoon, Job Van Uitert was on track for the qualifying session onboard the #65 Oreca 07. He initially set the 2nd fastest time but his lap time was cancelled due to a track limit. He finally finished P5.
Julien Canal started the race on Sunday, with 43 degrees on the tarmac. The Frenchman jumped to P3. After a Safety Car period, he was under the Cool Racing attacks, but he managed to stay ahead. Unfortunately, on Lap 15, a small off-track pushed him back to P10. He then did all need to bring the car back to P3. He handed the car over to Nico Jamin under a Full Course Yellow, now behind Nicolas Lapierre (#37 Cool Racing). Then, it was the greatest move made by team with a good pitstop putting us in P1. We led the race for more than 30 minutes, with Job Van Uitert on board. He lost a position when caught up by a lapped car just before going back to the pit for the last refueling. With 28 minutes to go, another Full Course Yellow favored our main competitors (Prema and United) and put us back in P4. Eager to gain what the FCY costed us, the Dutchman tried everything he could to jump on the podium, but the traffic and an FCY five minutes prevented him to do so.
The French team left Imola with the disappointment not be rewarded for its efforts. With two podiums in the previous two years, the whole team is looking forward to fighting for the win in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Florent Gouin-Technical Director: "It was quite a good race for us. There are mainly positive things. Julien was able to gain places at the start, and we ended up quickly in the Top 3. Only a little off-track costed us a bit, but we recovered that cost with some good moves on track, good pit stops and a great strategy. We decided to last longer on the tires, not an easy exercise for Nico and Job, but it paid off because it allowed us to fight for the podium and the win. Our efforts were unfortunately ruined by a Full Course Yellow that favored our competitors and their strategy. So, we are of course frustrated by the outcome, but satisfied with the team and crew performances. It gives us confidence for the 24 Hours of Le Mans."
Julien Canal : "I am proud of my start where I put the car in P2. The car was really fast and great to drive. My little mistake costed us a few places, but thanks to the team's strategy, some great overtakes I did and my teammates effort, we were quickly back to the front of the field, and then led the race. But we were hindered by bad luck when a Full Course Yellow played in favor of the other competitors. We deserved to be on the podium. Nevertheless, we are really confident before Le Mans as our trio is solid and the team is doing a remarkable job so far!"
Nico Jamin : "We have to keep the positives from this weekend. We were already competitive before the race. The team did a fantastic job on the car. Without the track limit in qualifying, Job was fighting for the pole position, and during the race, the engineers gave us a big boost with a perfect strategy. And we led the race ! But the last half hour has been fatal to us with a Full Course Yellow the competition benefited from. Thanks to all the technical team. We have all needed in hands to face the 24 Hours of Le Mans !”
Job Van Uitert :"I think we had a positive weekend at Imola. Even if we didn’t get the result we were hoping for. It's not really the result we should have brought back home regarding the pace we had. We did everything we could. We just had a small spin at the beginning of the race, which put us back in the pack, but we fought back and were leading then. The fight with COOL Racing and Yifei Ye was great. End of the race was tough, and we missed it with the Full Course Yellow that worked well with Prema and United to jump in front of us. All in all, I am proud of the pace and potential we have.”