The Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli is the most successful and oldest one-make championship in motorsport. One of the secrets of this formula is the people who work to provide the participants and fans with a spectacle that continually renews itself year after year. The challenge to which the team of Andrea Mladosic, Head of Ferrari Challenge and Corso Pilota, is called to meet this year is new and demanding but at the same time stimulating. This season has seen two Challenge North America races and the inaugural round of the Asia Pacific Challenge, as well as the début of the new 488 Challenge Evo which took to the track in Road Atlanta and Bahrain. However, the Challenge Europe and UK are still at the starting line. Let’s start with Andrea.
Q: What challenge does this 2020 season offer?
A: “We are following an amazing last season, which should be remembered from every angle. There was exceptional participation, we had a top-level calendar, and we organised probably the best Finali Mondiali ever. 2020 has brought with it a new challenge, which we obviously didn’t think we would have to face. We worked hard to get the new 488 Challenge Evo on track and to come up with a programme that would allow our drivers to race it on spectacular tracks, but the pandemic forced everyone to stop. We are ready to restart as soon as governments and health authorities consider it appropriate. It will be different, undoubtedly complicated, but we all want to get back on track. To do this, we can count on the best customers, a highly skilled sales network and an endless passion“.
Q: The new 488 Challenge Evo, however, has already made its competitive début and the drivers have made rather positive judgements about the latest addition. What can you tell us about it?
A: “The 488 Challenge Evo is designed to take the already excellent 488 Challenge to new levels, bringing it closer to racing GTs than ever before. In all phases, from design to testing, we focused not only on performance but also and above all on safety and driveability because, underpinning everything, it must be an engaging and fun experience for the driver“.
Mladosic’s is a very familiar face to Ferrari Challenge participants since he has been its reference point for sixteen years.
Q: What was your first Ferrari Challenge race?
A: “My first race as coordinator of the European Championship was in Hockenheim. I remember the first drivers briefing very well when I took the floor and after saying “Hello”, being interrupted by a big round of encouraging applause. At that time, I knew practically none of the drivers or team managers, and that welcome impressed me and made me even more excited…”.
Q: What does your role in the Ferrari Challenge entail?
A: “My job is to organise, coordinate and oversee all aspects of the Challenge Championships around the world. In close contact with the managers of our international and national series, I see to relations with the sports federations and circuits and the management of suppliers and committed partners. In addition, the ongoing relationship with our dealers who become Challenge teams, the drivers and all our colleagues who, in their respective functions, work in the organisation and for the success of the championships, is fundamental“.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
A: “Besides the current one, every season has been a challenge, even if nothing puts us to the test like the Finali Mondiali. The Daytona one, in particular, was memorable for the organisational scope of the event “.
The Ferrari Challenge, now in its 28th season, is one of the Prancing Horse’s flagship activities because it reinforces the close link between the world of racing and that of the product that emerges from the Maranello factory and because, historically, the company’s attention is focused on its sports customers.
Q: What are the ingredients for a successful recipe like the Ferrari Challenge?
A: “There are no secrets, but many factors that when combined create something as special as our one-make series. Our customers’ passion for motorsport is not only genuine but deserves to be supported and encouraged as intensely and as well as possible. Our task is to create an international championship sanctioned by the FIA, organised according to the strictest standards of quality and safety but with a unique, almost family environment and atmosphere. Drivers are the focus of our attention, both inside and outside the racetracks. We strive to give them the best possible service in terms of welcome, relationship, hospitality and media. The media coverage, both on television and on social and web channels, gives them and their sponsors excellent visibility“.
Q: Speaking of sponsors, what is their importance for the Ferrari Challenge?
A: “Our partners play a vital, indispensable, role. Starting from the most historical ones like Pirelli and Shell, and without mentioning all of them, their partnership is fundamental to ensure the high level and success of such a complex championship. You couldn’t imagine the Ferrari Challenge without them… We are fortunate to have many long-term partnerships, so I think the pleasure of working together is mutual”.
The recent promotion to official Ferrari Competizioni GT driver of Nicklas Nielsen, European and World Champion in the 2018 Ferrari Challenge, has once again focused attention on the training nature of the Prancing Horse’s one-make series.
Q: Can we consider the Ferrari Challenge a launchpad into the GT3 world?
A: “Absolutely, history shows it. As part of Attività Sportive GT we can assist a customer on every step of the way from a road car to a GT3. We are the only ones who can do this, starting from the Corso Pilota (our driving school) to the world of Competizioni GT, obviously passing through the intermediate step of the Ferrari Challenge. Over the years, the transition from our one-make series to GT3 has become increasingly natural and what is impressive is their immediate competitiveness in very high-level championships. Besides Nicklas, there are many examples of drivers passing through the Challenge and then continuing either their sporting career or their experience in motorsport, both PRO and AM. This applies to all our series, not just the European one“.
Finally, we have to mention one of the most anticipated moments of the year, the Finali Mondiali. That’s the week when the competitors in the Prancing Horse series and, more generally, all the sports customers meet on the track with their cars, to share their passion for the Italian brand and racing.
Q: What is it that makes the Finali Mondiali so special?
A: “No other car manufacturer is capable of organising an event like the Finali Mondiali where many different types of car are on track, ranging from Formula 1 to the sophisticated prototypes of the XX Programmes, to those that compete in the Challenge. This high concentration of horsepower, people from all over the world and side events with entertainment and the involvement of customers and enthusiasts, is truly unique“.
Q: “Why did you choose to hold it in Abu Dhabi this year?”
A: “Because change never hurts. Abu Dhabi provides the highest level of sports and accommodation facilities. Besides, this year we will also celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the Ferrari World theme park. And there is also the fact that in November we can count on favourable weather and much warmer temperatures than in Europe“.