Bjorn Grossmann, Martin Nelson and Henry Hassid won the first races of the sixth round of the Ferrari Challenge Europe at Imola. However, the women stole the show, with Fabienne Wohlwend on the podium and Manuela Gostner fourth at the wheel of their 488 Challenge in the Coppa Shell. Overtaking, duels and a some mistakes on a tricky track made for two spectacular races on the Santerno circuit.
Coppa Shell. The Coppa Shell kicked off the day on Saturday, with Henry Hassid starting best from pole position. However, the French driver didn’t manage to pull away, finding himself just a few tenths of a second in front of championship leader Johnny Laursen (Formula Racing), the 19 year-old from Liechtenstein Fabienne Wohlwend (Octane 126) and the pairing of Manuela and Thomas Gostner (Ineco MP-Racing). At around midrace Laursen, who had only made the race thanks to the excellent work of Formula Racing after a crash in the final minutes of qualifying, began to come under pressure from Wohlwend who kept tabs on the Dane for three or four laps before launching an attack at the Rivazza. The championship leader managed to defend from the first assault but on the following lap the 19 year-old did brilliantly to force her rival into a mistake at the Tamburello chicane allowing her to slip into second place. However, the entrance of the Safety Car, called on track after an accident involving Tadakazu Kojima (Formula Racing), frustrated her desire to cause problems for Hassid. The Safety Car returned to the pitlane just before the last lap after which the positions remained the same. This was Hassid’s sixth victory in seven races (he also won the Gentlemen Cup) and a first podium in the Ferrari Challenge for Fabienne Wohlwend who finished ahead of Laursen, who still tops the championship standings 28 points ahead of Hassid. Manuela and Thomas Gostner finished fourth and fifth.
Trofeo Pirelli. It was a chaotic start for the Trofeo Pirelli. Philipp Baron jumped the grren light and found himself at the Tamburello corner level with the top two in the standings, poleman Bjorn Grossmann (Octane 126), and championship leader Daniele Di Amato (CDP). Grossmann went in first followed by Baron, while Alessandro Vezzoni (Rossocorsa Pellin-Racing) collided with Di Amato who had needed to leave space for the Austrian of Rossocorsa. The CDP driver did a complete spin after which he managed to restart but from the back of the group. Vezzoni came off worse after being hit by Ettore Contini (Kessel Racing) and was forced to retire. On the second lap the race officials penalised Baron with a drive-through penalty for the jump start and so the Austrian finished behind Di Amato. It was an almost easy victory for Grossmann, ahead of Sam Smeeth (Stratstone Ferrari) and Di Amato, who had fought back to gain two points on Baron, his closest rival.
Pirelli Am. Martin Nelson reigned supreme in the Trofeo Pirelli Am after two unlucky race weekends. The Scuderia Autoropa driver dominated from start to finish, forcing opponents into one mistake after another to try to keep his pace. Bonamy Grimes, in the 488 Challenge of Stratstone Ferrari, was the first to make a mistake, then it was the turn of Tommaso Rocca (Rossocorsa) and finally, at the Variante Alta, Marc Brough (Graypaul Nottingham). All this gifted second position to none other than Chris Froggatt (HR Owen), who had started from last due to a crash in qualifying. However, Brough still managed to salvage a spot on the podium with third place, his first in the Ferrari Challenge. Nelson and Froggatt thus reopened the race for the title with Jens Liebhauser having a very unlucky race. Starting from pole, he was caught up in an accident at the start involving Pro class drivers and ended up losing his rear spoiler. The German had to make a pitstop to remove it entirely and thus finished only ninth. In the Trofeo Pirelli 458 victory went to Galip Atar (Octane 126). It will be the same again on Sunday with the Coppa Shell at 12:50 pm and the Trofeo Pirelli at 3:35 pm.