Wartique and Grotz first at Portimão
Ferrari Challenge Europe

Wartique and Grotz first at Portimão

Portimão | 1 August 2020

John Wartique and Olivier Grotz won the first Trofeo Pirelli race at Portimão, in a thirty-minute session packed with spectacle, passes, and dramatic twists and turns.

The drivers got off to a thrilling start with many veering off track even though there were no collisions. However, an accident did occur on lap one when, after a few attempts to overtake, Florian Merckx collided with poleman Emanuele Maria Tabacchi who was trying to protect his lead. The incident sowed havoc behind the pair causing spins and abrupt slowdowns. While Merckx was compelled to retire, Tabacchi drove on for one more lap before pulling into the pits to fix the rear of his car, damaged by the heavy contact. The championship leader returned to the track one lap in arrears with two main goals, to finish the race and set the fastest lap.

Wartique and Grotz took advantage of the initial confusion to move into the lead in their respective classes, battling it out for first place overall. However, behind them, Paulsen and Výboh were very close and determined to challenge even though they were fighting each other. Výboh, in particular, used his superior pace to pass his rival. The latter received a 10-second penalty from the race officials for a collision with Espersen. While in the rear Tabacchi launched a series of record-breaking laps that gave a sense of the anger he felt over the earlier accident, at the front Grotz passed Wartique to take the lead, trying and failing to pull away. On lap 12, the Dutchman made a small mistake that opened the way for Wartique and, at the same time, blew open the battle for the Trofeo Pirelli Am title. With four 488 Challenge Evos in the leader’s wake separated by less than two seconds, there was plenty of drama. Fabienne Wohlwend appeared to be the fastest in the group but had to cope with Paulsen who, on the other hand, pushed to keep third final position even with his penalty. This allowed Výboh to surprise the Liechtenstein champion to move into the third virtual position which became real when Wartique was first under the chequered flag. The Francorchamps Motors Luxemburg driver now leads the Trofeo Pirelli standings ahead of Fabienne Wohlwend and Emanuele Maria Tabacchi, who set the fastest race time and mounted the bottom step of the podium despite the one lap delay. In the Trofeo Pirelli Am, Olivier Grotz celebrated his first victory in the Prancing Horse one-make series ahead of Matúš Výboh and Frederik Paulsen. The latter beat his compatriot Frederik Espersen by just three-tenths of a second. Dhillon took fifth place, while Laskovski was sixth after suffering a five-second penalty for veering off track, like so many others.


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