Ferrari Challenge Europe at Spa-Francorchamps

This weekend saw the Ferrari Challenge Europe at Spa-Francorchamps, which saw rain and fog play it’s part in the racing…

Race 1:

Florian Merckx, Chris Froggatt, Eric Cheung and Alexander Nussbaumer were the first winners of the Ferrari Challenge Europe at Spa-Francorchamps, the third round of the championship held in the European Ferrari Racing Days.

Trofeo Pirelli. The Trofeo Pirelli race kicked off in the early afternoon and turned out to be spectacular. Local hero Florian Merckx of Baron Motorsport, set off faster than poleman Nicklas Nielsen, overtaking the rival before Eau Rouge. Then on the Kemmel straight, Bjorn Grossmann (Octane 126) also passed the Formula Racing driver. The trio quickly built up a lead over the rest of the group, taking advantage of the withdrawal of David Fumanelli (Rossocorsa), involved in an accident at the start. Merckx handled the pressure from his rivals, with Grossman only managing to pass him by cutting the chicane. The German, of course, then had to give back the position. There was next to nothing between Merckx, Grossmann and Nielsen as they crossed the line. It was Florian’s first win in the 488 Challenge, while Nielsen kept his lead in the championship standings.

Pirelli Am. Once again it was an all-British fight in the Pirelli Am with championship leader Chris Froggatt punished with a drive-through for his involvement in David Fumanelli’s accident. Froggatt then pulled off an extraordinary recovery. The Ferrari GB driver fought back to join his teammates John Sawbridge and Formula Racing drivers John Dhillon and Klaus Zibrandsen. On the last lap, a slight mistake by Sawbridge allowed Froggatt to draw up alongside his rival at the Bus Stop chicane, crossing the line just 35 thousandths of second ahead of him, the narrowest margin of victory in the history of the Ferrari Challenge.

Coppa Shell. The Coppa Shell race started later in the afternoon and saw Eric Cheung (Formula Racing) hold onto first ahead of Christophe Hurni (Formula Racing) in the 488 Challenge of Team Zenith Sion-Lausanne. Thomas Gostner (Ineco-MP Racing) was in third, immediately followed by a tough group formed by Fons Scheltema (Kessel Racing), James Weiland (Rossocorsa) and Manuela Gostner (Ineco-MP Racing). Gostner attacked Weiland, who was forced to retire after a slight contact at the La Source hairpin. At the midway point the race was neutralised with the Safety Car coming on following an accident involving Vladimir Hladik (Baron Motorsport). The 488 Challenge of the Czech driver, who emerged unscathed, lost some liquid and the race finished behind the safety car. Cheung took first ahead of Hurni and Thomas Gostner.

Shell Am. The Shell Am class saw little in the way of twists and turns with Alexander Nussbaumer starting from pole position and staying in first to the finish line. Second place went to a very strong Agata Smolka (Rossocorsa) ahead of Murat Cuhadaroglu (Kessel Racing). Tomorrow the second day of races will see Trofeo Pirelli starting at 14.15; Coppa Shell is at 16.

Race 2:

Nicklas Nielsen, Fabienne Wohlwend, James Weiland and Ingvar Mattsson won the Sunday races of the Ferrari Challenge Europe at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, on a day that was marked by rain and fog.

Trofeo Pirelli. The Trofeo Pirelli race kicked off in the early afternoon and was immediately marked by a series of crashes with the track soaked after a morning of rain. David Fumanelli, who started from pole, spun, unleashing chaos behind him. Indeed, some drivers went wide to avoid hitting the 488 Challenge of Rossocorsa. One of them was Germany’s Thomas Loefflad (Gohm Motorsport BB) who as his wheels mounted the extraturf lost control of his 488 Challenge and smashed violently into the barriers. The driver was ok but red flag came out and the race only resumed an hour later. At the second start Nielsen (Formula Racing) held onto first ahead of Florian Merckx (Baron Motorsport) and Bjorn Grossmann (Octane 126) who soon moved into second. Nielsen still tops the championship standings a few points ahead of Grossmann.

Pirelli Am. Fabienne Wohlwend dominated the Trofeo Pirelli Am race for her second career win and the first in a class to which she was promoted this year. The Octane 126 driver took advantage of Loefflad’s exit and the problems of championship leader Chris Froggatt. The Ferrari GB – HR Owen driver damaged his 488 Challenge at the start and lined up last for the second start. His comeback would have brought him to fourth place on the podium, but he was disqualified because the mechanics had worked on his car in the pitlane instead of the garage. The final result are still provisional since the team made an appeal to the decision. Claus Zibrandsen (Formula Racing) and John Sawbridge (Ferrari GB – HR Owen) mounted the second and third steps of the podium behind Wohlwend.

Coppa Shell and Shell Am. The Coppa Shell and Coppa Shell Am races were decided in the morning with qualifying. The race officials did their best to get things going despite the fog that had descended on the Kemmel straight. For almost 20 minutes the cars lapped behind the Safety Car in the hope that the fog would lift, but it wasn’t to be. The race was stopped with the red flag and half points were awarded. James Weiland therefore won at the wheel of the 488 Challenge of Rossocorsa, ahead of Christophe Hurni (Team Zenith Sion-Lausanne) and the winner of Race-1, Eric Cheung (Formula Racing). Alex Nussbaumer once again took pole in the Shell Am class but an issue at the end of qualifying forced the Formula Racing driver to start from the back of the grid. Ingvar Mattsson (Scuderia Autoropa) finished first ahead of Agata Smolka (Rossocorsa) and Murat Cuhadaroglu (Kessel Racing). Next race Misano, June 7-9.


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