Aurélien Panis, the son of former Grand Prix winner Olivier Panis, will switch from single-seater racing to touring cars in 2017 after signing to race in the FIA World Touring Car Championship with Zengö Motorsport.
The 22-year-old has achieved recent prominence in his open-wheel and ice racing exploits, finishing fifth overall in last year’s Formula V8 3.5 Series standings with two race victories. He is also a two-time runner-up in the Andros Trophy ice-racing championship.
The young Frenchman will now move to a closed-cockpit environment, piloting a Honda Civic WTCC with the privateer Hungarian squad.
“I’m very proud to join the WTCC,” said Panis. “It is a very strong international championship and a great step in my career.
“There are many experienced and successful drivers in the series so it will be a very exciting and tough challenge for me; I had better roll up my sleeves from day one.
“I’m proud to drive for a great team like Zengö Motorsport, which has won races in the past, and I am very honoured to join the Honda Racing family.
“Everything will be new for me this season and the goal will be to learn and gain experience quickly, in order to be able to fight at the top as soon as possible.”
The Zengö Motorsport squad will be looking to move up the field after a difficult 2016 campaign. The outfit expanded to a two-car operation in the off-season with Hungarian youngsters Ferenc Ficza and Daniel Nágy at the wheel, although the latter only raced in the final five rounds of the season after prolonged delays getting its second car up and running.
The team is set to announce the identity of Panis’ teammate at a later date.
|WHO IS AURÉLIEN PANIS?|
|Full Name||Aurélien Panis|
|Born||29 October 1994, Saint-Martin-d’Hères (FRA)|
|2011||French Formula 4 Championship, Autosport Academy, 2 podiums, 10th overall|
|2012||Formula Renault 2.0 Alps, RC Formula, 16th overall|
|2013||Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, Prema Powerteam, 18th overall|
|2014||Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, ART Junior Team, 1 win, 2 podiums, 9th overall|
|2015||Formula Renault 3.5 Series, Tech 1 Racing, 12th overall|
|2015-16||Andros Trophy, 3 wins, 6 podiums, 2nd overall|
|2016||Formula V8 3.5 Series, Arden Motorsport, 2 wins, 3 podiums, 5th overall|
|2016-17||Andros Trophy, 2 wins, 9 podiums, 2nd overall|
|2017||FIA WTCC, Zengö Motorsport Honda Civic WTCC|
Images via FIA WTCC Media and Formula V8 3.5 Series