Francorchamps, 12 May 2018 – 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 – HR Owen 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.