After a splendid sunny day yesterday, Race-2 of the second round of Ferrari Challenge Europe in Valencia was disputed in meteorological conditions diametrically opposed. Heavy downpours and temperatures, which never rose above 13 degrees either on the asphalt or in the atmosphere, forced competitors to drive in extreme conditions. The two races ended with Bjorn Grossmann and Jack Brown dominating in the Trofeo Pirelli, while Ernst Kirchmayr and Henrik Jansen commanded in the Coppa Shell.
Trofeo Pirelli. Bjorn Grossmann returns to the highest step of the podium in the race which marks his return to the series. The multi-time Trofeo Pirelli Europa champion (2006, 2015 and 2016) wins his forty-first victory in the Ferrari Challenge after an enthralling race characterized by two Safety Car incursions. The Octane 126 driver took advantage of the restart after the first neutralization to spring attacks on Louis Prette (Formula Racing) which culminated in an overtaking manoeuvre carried out on lap eight. From then on, the German driver kept the pursuers in check even after the last Safety Car which came out 8’46” from the chequered flag and re-entered the pits with a mere 2’ of the race still to run. In the battle for the podium, Niccolò Schirò (Rossocorsa) managed to overtake a tenacious yet correct Prette who nevertheless accrues important points in the general standings. Hot on the heels of the top three were Frenchman Thomas Neubauer (Charles Pozzi – Courage) – on the podium in Race-1 – and rookie Maximilian Mayer (Gohm Motorsport). It was tough day out for Sam Smeeth (Baron Motorsport), forced to start from the final row, who nevertheless staged a fine comeback to finish in sixth ahead of a returning Fabienne Wohlwend (Octane 126).
Trofeo Pirelli AM. At the end of a textbook race, exercising absolute control throughout, Jack Brown successfully completed the race to clinch a maiden victory in the series. The driver from Ferrari UK – Graypaul Nottingham, sixth overall, was unrivalled and worthy of the well-deserved achievement. Behind him, Emanuele Maria Tabacchi (Rossocorsa) made an umpteenth comeback, starting from the ninth row, ahead of Martin Nelson (Scuderia Autoropa) who got lumbered with 25-second penalties which allowed rookie Marian Sufliarsky (MERTEL Italo Cars Nürnberg) to take the third step of the podium. The Slovakian driver managed to claw back positions from the back row start after having had problems on the grid, to become protagonist of an almost identical race to that of fellow-countryman Jan Danis (Scuderia Praha), winner of Race-1, who also started from the back due to grid handicaps. Danis crossed the finish-line in fourth position ahead of Englishman Frank Ruimy (Ferrari UK – HR Owen) and the Danish driver Frederik Espersen (Forza Racing).
Coppa Shell. Ernst Kirchmayr (Baron Motorsport) clinched an authoritative win at the end of Race-2, leading the race from pole to flag without buckling under the pressure put on by Tani Hanna (Formula Racing). He did so after the restart following the Safety Car entrance due to Race-1 winner Eric Cheung (Formula Racing) having come off the track. The battle between the German and Lebanese drivers led to the fastest lap, which according to race rules, merits an additional point, as does the pole position winner. On this occasion, Hanna won the day. On the third step of the podium was Fons Scheltema (Kessel Racing), one of the championship veterans, who made up for a less fortunate race yesterday. Behind the Dutchman, Ken Abe (Formula Racing) kept Corinna and Thomas Gostner (Ineco – MP Racing) in check.
Coppa Shell AM. Henrik Jansen also won the second scheduled race of the weekend in Spain. The Formula Racing driver, fourth overall, finished ahead of Laurent De Meeus (Ferrari UK – HR Owen) who took advantage of a spin by Agata Smolka (Rossocorsa) among the top positions, to take another step forward in the overall standings. Once again on the podium was Giuseppe Ramelli (Rossocorsa – Pellin Racing), who finished on the heels of De Meeus.
Qualifying. The morning qualifying session had allowed drivers to get a feel for the wet track after the races held yesterday in dry conditions. The fastest proved to be Thomas Neubauer (Charles Pozzi – Courage) and Jack Brown (Ferrari UK – Graypaul Nottingham) in the Trofeo Pirelli; Henrik Jansen (Formula Racing) and Ernst Kirchmayr (Baron Motorsport) in the Coppa Shell class. As usual, in order to keep the spectacle as entertaining as possible, grid handicaps had been applied, dictated by the previous race results, causing a reshuffle to the starting grid.
Rankings and upcoming events. In the Trofeo Pirelli: Niccolò Schirò (65), Sam Smeeth (55), Louis Prette (55); in the Trofeo Pirelli AM: Emanuele Maria Tabacchi (76), Jack Brown (67), Jan Danis (31); in the Coppa Shell: Tani Hanna (61), Ernst Kirchmayr (50), Christian Kinch (44); in the Coppa Shell AM: Laurent De Meeus (58), Agata Smolka (50), Henrik Jansen (44); Coppa Team: Formula Racing (209), Rossocorsa (207), Baron Motorsport (101).
The next round of the Ferrari Challenge Europe takes place on 3-5 May in Spielberg, Austria.