Ferrari Challenge APAC Race 1:
Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli Asia Pacific Series first round Race 1 started under the Safety Car due to heavy rainfall. The skies opened above Australia’s iconic Albert Park Grand Prix circuit in Melbourne and track conditions were extremely slippery. All 27 cars were fitted with wet tires as they took positions on the grid. Despite the weather, spectators of the weekend braved the rain and found their seats in the various grandstands around the 5.303km circuit. The race also finished under Safety Car due to Kanthicha Chimsiri of Thailand getting stuck in the gravel trap at Turn 1 after aquaplaning down the straight. Race direction took the standings at lap 8 and declared the winners.
Trofeo Pirelli. The practice sessions on Thursday proved to be essential as most of the 27 Ferrari Challenge drivers were new to the street circuit. It was crucial for the drivers to understand the fast and flowing road course combined with extensive runoff in many corners. The track design that features few true straights means that the track is not conducive to overtaking. However, this didn’t stop race debutant Rama Danindro of Indonesia. Dandindro quickly showed his pace and moved into the lead, overtaking pole-sitter James Weiland from USA. He lapped over a second faster than the field and led all the way to the finish line. Weiland and Renaldi Hutasoit from Indonesia had a hard fought battle for the remaining places on the podium with Hutasoit finally coming in third.
Coppa Shell. In the Shell class, the winner was Vincent Wong from Hong Kong, followed by Tiger Wu from Chinese Taipei and Eric Zang of China in third place. It was clear from the start that Wong was unstoppable and kept his lead from start to finish. There was a fierce battle behind him between Wu and Zang but Wu managed to keep his composure and came in second place.
Shell Am. Coppa Shell Am class had Andrew Moon from Korea as the first place finisher, followed by Kent Chen of Chinese Taipei who managed to recover from a spin to finish second. In third place was Min Xiao from China. For Moon, it was a sweet victory as he started second on the grid in his class but managed to seize the opportunity when David Dicker of New Zealand retired off the track and kept his lead throughout the first race of the weekend. Grant Baker from New Zealand was the winner of the Gentlemen Cup.
Ferrari Challenge APAC Race 2:
There was no wet drama at today’s Race-2 of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli Asia Pacific Series first round at Melbourne. In stark contrast to Saturday’s heavy downpour, it was clear blue skies this morning where Danindro led from start to finish. It was a fierce battle the moment the lights turned green. Speed of the approaches can catch the best drivers out and Formula One race starts from past years support that fact. And that was exactly what had transpired at Turn 1 which saw lots of drama as the 488 Challenge race drivers battled to get ahead. Turn 1 contact involving several drivers ended the race for some including local driver Martin Berry. Many cars sustained damage in the pile up, which saw Tani Hanna from Lebanon take evasive action and make up plenty of spots after starting rear of grid. Both he and Hector Lester from Ireland had strong races recovering well.
Trofeo Pirelli. Indonesian Rama Danindro once again dictated the pace in his 488 Challenge car. The action in the lead pack was intense with Danindro, fellow compatriot Renaldi Hutasoit, and American James Weiland all dicing, and Italian Philippe Prette showing his championship winning form fighting his way up into the lead pack. Hutasoit managed to overtake Weiland after 2 laps and fought hard till the final lap for the top step of the podium but couldn’t find the extra gear to overtake fellow countryman Danindro. Alex Au, a returning driver from Hong Kong, was knocked out of a top 10 finish after another car came into contact with his car mid-race, which lead to the safety car coming out. Danindro showed his experience with yet another perfect restart, building a comfortable margin to the chequered flag. Behind them, Weiland was in third position until the safety car re-emerged. Prette then seized the slight advantage and Weiland was eventually relegated to fourth.
Coppa Shell. The race was just as competitive for the Shell drivers. With yesterday’s class winner Vincent Wong from Hong Kong leading the group, there was a tight battle for first and second places with Tiger Wu of Chinese Taipei and Eric Zang of China. Wong had to retire after a collision in lap 3. Zang then powered ahead to come in first, with Tani Hanna second and Yanbing Xing taking the third spot.
Shell Am. David Dicker from New Zealand took his first victory in the Ferrari Challenge at the Melbourne circuit, holding off his rival Min Xiao from China by more than 3 seconds. Yesterday’s winner Andrew Moon from Korea finished third on the podium. Dicker was also the winner of the Gentlemen Cup and Kanthicha Chimsiri from Thailand taking the Ladies Cup.
Schedule. The next round of the Ferrari Challenge Asia Pacific will be held at Hampton Downs in New Zealand from 13th – 15th April.