Oliver Goethe pipped Francesco Simonazzi to top spot in Euroformula free practice at Imola, as the grid shrunk to eight cars.
There were 11 cars on the entry list for the weekend, with the understanding from the series organiser that all would race.
However the debuting combination of NV Racing and Paolo Brajnik had to withdraw at late notice due to the driver being ill, and then Drivex School did not turn up with its two entries.
Brajnik, an icon of the club Formula 3 racing scene in Europe, still plans to make his Euroformula debut in one of the remaining three rounds.
Drivex meanwhile filed the paperwork for two entries, one to be driven by Hungaroring podium-finisher Ayrton Simmons, and it was still believed by the series promoter on Thursday of the race weekend that the team would be competing.
However Simmons publicly denied that Drivex would be in attendance at Imola, and after follow-up conversations with series promoter GT Sport – and Drivex’s no-show in the two practice sessions – it has been confirmed the team will be absent.
Local driver Simonazzi topped FP1 on Friday morning with a 1m38.561s lap, heading Motopark’s runaway points leader Goethe by 0.106 seconds.
Josh Mason, entered by Motopark’s Japanese offshoot CryptoTower Racing Team, was over half a second back in third place and Goethe’s title rival Christian Mansell (CryptoTower) and Frederick Lubin (Motopark) were the only other two drivers within a second of the pace.
Mansell went fastest early on in FP2, before Goethe and Simonazzi started a rivalry at the top as they broke into the 1m38s.
It did not take long for Goethe to match the pace of the earlier session, but Simonazzi was able to lap just as fast as he ran on a clear track at the end of his first run and moved to the top with a 1m38.442s lap.
Goethe responded when he returned to track, setting a 1m38.390s that kept him ahead until Simonazzi went a full three tenths of a second faster with less than three minutes remaining of the session.
There was still room for improvement from both, and Simonazzi posted a 1m38.056s. It did not keep him in first place though, as with 22 seconds to go a 1m37.899s from Goethe put him clear at the top. Simonazzi had one more lap, and he managed to get within 0.033s of Goethe.
Mason was four tenths back in third place, with Mansell – who like Goethe has been doing FIA Formula 3 Championship races recently – an underwhelming 0.522s off the pace in fourth.
Vladimir Netusil was slowest of the eight runners, his best lap over 5.3s slower than Goethe’s.
Free practice results
|2||Francesco Simonazzi||BVM Racing||1m37.932s||+0.033s||35|
|8||Vladimir Netusil||Effective Racing||1m43.256s||+5.357s||37|