Maranello, 10 January 2018 – The 25th season of the Ferrari Challenge Europe saw many firsts and a number of returns. Proceedings kicked off with a win for Octane 126. In the Trofeo Pirelli the 2013 GP2 champion Fabio Leimer bagged the first winner’s laurels with the 488 Challenge, followed in Race-2 by teammate Bjorn Grossmann.
However, from Monza Daniele Di Amato descended on the championship like a hurricane. The CDP team driver recorded five victories in a row. Austria’s Philipp Baron, winner at Silverstone, was his fiercest rival, but Di Amato took the title at Imola a round before the end. The final races went to Sam Smeeth (at Imola), first in the Trofeo Pirelli Am 2016, and to the 20 year-old rookie Nicklas Nielsen at Mugello.
Trofeo Pirelli Am. The Trofeo Pirelli Am class was the hardest fought class of the European series. Jens Liebhauser, in his second year with Ferrari, the experienced Martin Nelson and rookie Chris Froggatt battled it out all season. Nelson won four races in a row at the beginning of the season, with Liebhauser clinching his first victory in Race-1 at Budapest, while Froggatt triumphed on Sunday. At Le Castellet first places went to Tommaso Rocca and Liebhauser, always in the points, while Silverstone saw Froggatt surge back to the fore. Nelson put himself back in the mix at Imola but Liebhauser wrapped things up in Race-1 at Mugello.
Coppa Shell. Johnny Laursen led in the Coppa Shell from start to finish. Rick Lovat won in Race-2 in Spain, while at Monza there were victories for Erich Prinoth (Ineco MP-Racing) and France’s Henry Hassid. Eric Cheung won on Saturday in Budapest, while on Sunday Johnny Laursen consolidated his lead in the standings. Hassid attempted a brilliant comeback at Silverstone and Imola but Laursen finally put his hands on the title in Race-1 at Mugello. At Imola the 19 year-old Fabienne Wohlwend of Liechtenstein wrote a page in history when she became the first female overall winner of a Challenge race. The 458 Challenge EVO had a class all to itself for its final year in 2017. In Europe, it was a two-way fight all season between Turkey’s Galip Atar (Octane 126) and Germany’s Holger Harmsen (Lueg Sportivo). Atar emerged victorious at Mugello.