The spectacular Portimão track in Portugal will host the third round of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli this weekend. After the first two races at Imola and Barcelona, the Prancing Horse one-make series is looking forward to an intense weekend at the Algarve International Circuit six years after its last visit. Once again, proceedings take place behind closed doors and in full compliance with the provisions of the Portuguese and motoring authorities supplemented by the Ferrari “Back on track” protocol to ensure the safety of participants and staff.
Trofeo Pirelli. Emanuele Maria Tabacchi will make his debut on the 4.692 km track, on top of the standings. After a perfect weekend at Imola, the Rossocorsa driver successfully maintained his position in Spain with two second places. Tabacchi enjoys a 15-length lead over Fabienne Wohlwend (Octane 126), always very fast in these early races of the season. The master of the Barcelona round, Thomas Neubauer (Charles Pozzi – Courage) is level on points with the Liechtenstein champion, although he won’t be present in Portugal. However, Florian Merckx (Baron Motorsport) and John Wartique (Francorchamps Motors Luxemburg) are back in the Ferrari Challenge. The former, the Trofeo Pirelli Asia Pacific champion in 2016, can boast podium finishes in over half his races, while the latter was fourth in last year’s Le Mans one-make race.
The Trofeo Pirelli Am standings are very short. They offer an exciting battle between Matúš Výboh (Scuderia Praha), in front on 58 points, and rookie Frederik Paulsen (Formula Racing), just one length behind. Eyes will also be on his teammate Olivier Grotz, who has started the season very well and just missed out on the win in Spain.
Coppa Shell. Roger Grouwels (Race Art – Kroymans) and Ernst Kirchmayr (Baron Motorsport) will also be in the spotlight during the Portuguese races. The Dutchman tops the standings on 55 points against the Austrian’s 48 and seems to have developed a great rapport with the 488 Challenge Evo, as shown by his two victories so far. However, no one should underestimate Kirchmayr’s determination. The Baron Motorsport driver has already shown on several occasions that he is ready to grasp any opportunity. At 42, far from having given up or been left out of the action, Fons Scheltema (Kessel Racing) can employ his great experience in the Prancing Horse series to try to challenge the two leaders. Expectations are also high for the return of Thomas and Corinna Gostner (CDP – MP Racing) after the unfortunate round at Imola.
In the battle for the Coppa Shell Am title, “Alex Fox” (SF Grand Est Mulhouse) will try to follow up the Barcelona weekend, which left him out in front on 49 points against 43 for Michael Simoncic (Baron Motorsport), his closest rival. After an impressive performance at Imola, the Austrian driver struggled in Barcelona. “Boris Gideon” (Formula Racing) closed the gap thanks to his podium finishes in Spain. The German, now on 37 points, enjoys a one-point lead over Laurent De Meeus (H.R. Owen), who is also fully in contention for the championship.
Programme. On Saturday, the programme will start with free practice followed by qualifying for the Trofeo Pirelli (12 pm – 12:30 pm) and the Coppa Shell (3 pm – 3:30 pm), before the two races in the late afternoon. The Trofeo Pirelli drivers will set off at 5 pm while their Coppa Shell colleagues depart at 6:20 pm. On Sunday, similarly, qualifying for the Trofeo Pirelli and Coppa Shell will be in the morning (10 am to 10:30 am, and 11 am to 11:30 am respectively), followed by the last races on the programme. The 30-minute Trofeo Pirelli race will start at 3 pm, followed at 4:20 pm by the Coppa Shell. All times refer to local time (UTC+1).
Live and streaming. The Ferrari website (live.ferrari.com) will allow you to enjoy the race and qualifying, with commentary in English.