The first race of the Finali Mondiali was full of fireworks and excitement as the North American championship brought intense racing and late thrills to its Friday afternoon race at Mugello. At the end of the day, however, no new champions were crowned, though the results ensured maximum intensity and drama in tomorrow’s final race.
The Trofeo Pirelli race erupted with intensity and passion after a late race maneuver forced review and ultimately brought a penalty to Benjamin Hites (The Collection) pushing him behind Cooper MacNeil (Scuderia Corsa – Ferrari of Westlake). After qualifying on pole position, Hites had the measure of Cooper all race, but misjudged a passing maneuver around a back-marker. Cooper was able to pounce and pass the Chilean driver. From there on, it was truly a battle royale as Hites tried every trick in the book to get back past. Ultimately, with two minutes to go, an incident caused a yellow flag. In the moments immediately following, Hites made a lunge past Cooper and into the lead. Upon review, however, Hites was determined to have acted outside the regulations, and so was demoted back to second. The result is critical for the championship, as instead of closing the gap to 3 points, Hites now sits 14 adrift and will need Cooper to have a particularly poor performance to overcome this deficit in the title fight. Third in the Trofeo Pirelli Marc Muzzo (Ferrari of Ontario).
Trofeo Pirelli Am.
Ziad Ghandour (Boardwalk Ferrari) took the win, having led from the start and thus closed the gap to championship leader and second place finisher, Neil Gehani (Continental Autosports). Neil did an excellent job to recover from a difficult qualifying session to ensure he did not lose too much ground to his championship rivals. John Megrue (Ferrari of Long Island) finished in third completed the top three in Trofeo Pirelli Am. The race effectively ensured that the championship in the Trofeo Pirelli Am category will come down to how Neil and Ziad finish relative to each other. With just a few points separating them, and the other contenders too far out of the picture, it will just be down to them to decide the result.
Mark Issa (Ferrari of Atlanta) took the win officially after another late penalty demoted Brian Davis (Ferrari of Palm Beach) from the top spot. The affable Atlanta native was shuffled back at the start after qualifying third overall, bringing him into range of his other class challengers. He was able to scrap for much of the race, but ultimately the penalty cost him the position. Claude Senhoreti (Ferrari of Ft. Lauderdale) finished third and put himself in position to take third in the chAmpionship from Dale Katechis who is not present this weekend.
Coppa Shell Am.
Jay Schreibman (Cauley Ferrari) jumped his chief championship rival Brad Horstmann (Foreign Cars Italia) mid-way through the thirty minute race, meaning he now leads Brad by two points heading into the final race of the season. Eric Marston (Scuderia Corsa – Ferrari of Westlake) took the final spot on the podium. While now out of contention for the Coppa Shell Am podium, his performance relative to Gianni Grilli (Ferrari of Quebec) ensures Eric a chance to overtake Gianni for third in the class championship.