This weekend the third round of the Ferrari Challenge Europa 2019 takes place at the famous Spielberg track, where Ferrari has written momentous pages in the history of F1 and endurance racing.
The Ferrari Challenge first appeared at Spielberg in 2001, the season in which the Austrian track hosted a race of the then Challenge Italia. In 2003, only two seasons after its debut, the calendar of the Prancing Horse one-make series included a stop in Austria in mid-July, but then in the following seasons the track underwent a series of changes to increase safety and modernise its infrastructure. In 2011 the Ferrari Challenge returned to the calendar, with a weekend that also included the Formula 1 cars of Maranello’s F1 Clienti department. In the Challenge, Stefano Gai, winner of the last edition of the Italian division, and Lorenzo Bontempelli, victor in the Trofeo Pirelli in the Finali Mondiali at Mugello, stole the scene, while Molteni and Di Amato stood out in the Coppa Shell. In the European Series, which since 2012 has included the Italian division, Philipp Baron and Blancardi triumphed in the Trofeo Pirelli, while Prette and Anderson won the Coppa Shell.
After the first two rounds, with the Bahrain night races in February and the return to Europe with Valencia at the beginning of April, the third round sees the divisional rankings nicely poised and some new and highly anticipated competitors joining the fray.
Trofeo Pirelli. A great fight on the track and in the category standings is expected, with Niccolò Schirò (Rossocorsa) leader after his win Sakhir and placings in Valencia. Sam Smeeth and Louis Prette are 10 points behind, with Neubauer just a little further back. Bjorn Grossmann, winner in Valencia and already high in the standings, is making his big return. Eyes will also be on Adam Carroll, a GP2 driver in recent seasons, who is making his debut with the Ferrari 488 Challenge.
Trofeo Pirelli AM Emanuele Maria Tabacchi (Rossocorsa) has been the great early season revelation. After dominating the first two races in Sakhir and notching up two second places in Valencia, the Italian tops the ranking nine points clear of Jack Brown, while Jan Danis (Scuderia Praha), winner in race one in Valencia, lies in third.
Coppa Shell. Class leader, the Lebanese Tani Hanna (Formula Racing) arrives at Spielberg 11 points ahead of Kirchmayr, while Christian Kinch is third. People will also be watching out for the returning James Weiland, winner of the Race-1 in Bahrain with a 488 in the colours of Rossocorsa.
Coppa Shell AM: The fans are also anticipating another exciting duel between Laurent De Meeus and Agatha Smolka, eight lengths apart in the Coppa Shell AM standings. Giuseppe Ramelli (Rossocorsa/Pellin Racing) is expected to repeat the excellent results recorded in Valencia.
Programme. On Saturday, qualifying for the Coppa Shell kicks off at 9 am, while the Trofeo Pirelli session begins at 9:45 am. In the afternoon, Race 1 of the Coppa Shell gets going at 1:20 pm while the Trofeo Pirelli cars set off at 3:50 pm. The running order is the same on Sunday, with qualifying in the morning and Race-2 in the afternoon.