Sam Smeeth, Jan Danis, Eric Cheung and Henrik Jansen have triumphed in Race-1 of the Ferrari Challenge in Valencia. In front of the thrilled spectators who coloured the paddock and the grandstands, the Trofeo Pirelli and Coppa Shell races guaranteed a surprise-filled show.
Trofeo Pirelli. At the end of a race full of twists and interventions from race authorities, Sam Smeeth (Baron Motorsport) was able to clinch a well-deserved victory. The English driver, who got off to a perfect start at the green light, took command of the race, fending off attacks from Bjorn Grossmann (Octane 126) who remained in his wake throughout, but had to settle for fourth final place due to a five-second penalty imposed for failing to respect track limits. Similar sanctions befell many of the race protagonists – even Smeeth himself – who, in the end, claimed the win with a mere four tenths of a second advantage over Thomas Neubauer (Charles Pozzi – Courage) and 2’2” over Niccolò Schirò (Rossocorsa) who was forced to make another comeback after being lumbered with a grid handicap after the results in Bahrain. As mentioned above, Grossmann posted fourth, followed by Bonacini (Kessel Racing) who produced a very convincing performance to conclude just five seconds adrift of the race winner. Meanwhile, Louis Prette (Formula Racing) finished fifth, another driver who fell foul of race authority sanctions.
Trofeo Pirelli AM. Slovakian driver Jan Danis commanded the Trofeo Pirelli AM, characterized by an extremely fierce battle for the podium positions. The Scuderia Praha driver, on his return to the series, crossed the finish line ahead of Emanuele Maria Tabacchi (Rossocorsa) and Jack Brown (Ferrari UK – Graypaul Nottingham). The championship leader was able to stage a comeback from the back row which was made easier by the duels involving a handful of drivers ahead, spearheaded by Alessandro Vezzoni (Rossocorsa – Pellin Racing). The action ended up facilitating the Italian’s resurgence. Brown, meanwhile, had a very intense race characterized by a prolonged duel with Vezzoni. Likewise, sanctions in this category reshuffled the final standings. At the foot of the podium were Martin Nelson (Scuderia Autoropa), Christian Overgaard (Forza Racing) and rookie Marian Sufliarsky (MERTEL Italo Cars Nürnberg).
Coppa Shell. Displaying flawless race conduct and absolute control, Eric Cheung was able to return to the top step of the podium, snatching a fourteenth victory in the Ferrari Challenge. The Canadian Formula Racing driver was able to repel the attacks, in the initial stages, by Ernst Kirchmayr (Baron Motorsport), who had got off to an excellent start, but span off two laps from the end dropping the driver to fifth position and put paid to his challenges to Cheung. Among the main protagonists were Christian Kinch (Gohm Motorsport), who took the chequered flag in runner-up spot and Thomas Gostner (Ineco – MP Racing). The two had a lengthy no-holds-barred battle for the lower step of the podium, only to find themselves both celebrating after the race. Fourth-placed finisher was Ken Abe, forced to endure a five-second penalty for failing to respect track limits, while Tani Hanna, leader in the championship after Bahrain, finished in sixth spot.
Coppa Shell AM. Henrik Jansen proved to be the protagonist of a perfect race, finishing in third place overall with few rivals capable of ruffling his feathers. The Formula Racing driver finished the thirty-minute race ahead of both Polish driver Agata Smolka (Rossocorsa) who drove a cautious race with eyes set on the championship, and Giuseppe Ramelli (Rossocorsa – Pellin Racing) returning to the series and making a maiden outing at the Ricardo Tormo circuit. The overall championship leader, Laurent De Meeus, finished fourth.