The 28th edition of the world’s most famous one-make championship starts at Imola, after its postponement due to the Covid-19 epidemic.
The Ferrari Challenge Europe Trofeo Pirelli officially kicks off this weekend at Imola’s Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, with the first two races of the 2020 season, after the enforced break due to the Covid-19 epidemic. The event takes place behind closed doors and follows a strict protocol which, based on Ferrari’s “Back on track”, complements the provisions laid down by the national and motoring authorities to ensure the safety of the participants and personnel involved.
Trofeo Pirelli. The battle to succeed Louis Prette and Emanuele Maria Tabacchi (Rossocorsa) in the roll of honour promises to be interesting despite the announced absence in this round of Sam Smeeth (Baron Motorsport), 2016 Trofeo Pirelli Am champion and one of the most highly anticipated drivers in the run-up to the season. All eyes will be on Thomas Neubauer (Charles Pozzi), who took part last season, and the reigning Trofeo Pirelli Am champion, Tabacchi, promoted to the premier class. Another feature will be the face-off between women drivers Fabienne Wohlwend (Octane 126), who was the first woman to win a race in the Ferrari Challenge in 2017 on this track, and Michelle Gatting (Niki Hasler), last year at the wheel of the 488 GTE in the European Le Mans Series. Three new faces will appear in the Trofeo Pirelli Am, “AC” (Rossocorsa), Frederik Paulsen (Formula Racing) and Robert Ziemian (Octane 126), for a category that historically provides a great show.
Coppa Shell. In the Coppa Shell, more than twenty-one drivers will join the hunt for the titles won in 2019 by Tani Hanna and Henrik Jansen, although three of them will be absent from Imola, including the Coppa Shell Am reigning champion, Jansen (Formula Racing). They will have the chance to test themselves in these traditionally hard-fought races, against well-known faces of the one-make series such as Fons Scheltema (Kessel Racing), Thomas and Corinna Gostner (CDP – MR Racing) and Ernst Kirchmayr (Baron Motorsport), the latter previously at the wheel of the 488 Challenge Evo in the inaugural round of the Ferrari Challenge Asia Pacific. In the same class, it will be interesting to see the performances of Paolo Scudieri (Sa.Mo.Car) and the returning Claudio Schiavoni (Niki Hasler). In the Coppa Shell Am, Laurent De Meeus (HR Owen) will launch an assault on the title that just escaped him last year. He will face known opponents such as Giuseppe Ramelli (Rossocorsa-Pellin Racing), “Boris Gideon” (Formula Racing) and Miroslav Vyboh (Scuderia Praha) but also some making their series debut, such as Willem Van der Vorm (Scuderia Montecarlo).
New weapon. After taking to the track in the opening round of the Ferrari Challenge Asia Pacific and the second race of the Ferrari Challenge North America, the 488 Challenge Evo will also make its European series debut. Presented at the 2019 Finali Mondiali, the car offers improved performance and driveability, for more enjoyment and fun at the wheel.
Calendar. As announced in recent weeks, the calendar has been completely revised to maintain the number of races initially planned. After Imola, the Challenge Europe will stop in Barcelona, then Portimao, Mugello, Spa-Francorchamps and Misano, before the Finali Mondiali in Abu Dhabi.
Programme. On Friday the cars will take to the track for the first free practice sessions, from 9:10 am to 12:30 pm and from 2:30 pm to 5:50 pm. On Saturday, however, after the morning free practice, the first points will be awarded in the qualifying that will determine the starting grid for Race-1 that afternoon. The green light for the Trofeo Pirelli drivers is at 4 pm, while the Coppa Shell competitors will take their turn at 5:20 pm. The programme is the same on Sunday, although both races will start an hour earlier compared to Saturday. All the Ferrari Challenge Europe rounds will be broadcast live exclusively on Sky Sport channels.