The Ferrari Finali Mondiali 2017 closed with over 40,000 fans flocking to Mugello during the weekend. They were drawn by ideal temperatures along with the record number of cars on show, including the 488 Challenge, 458 Challenge EVO, Formula 1 and XX Programmes. Chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne was also present, greeting customers and handing the Trofeo Pirelli to the winner Fabio Leimer, before enjoying a walk in the pitlane to chat to the customers and the public in the stands and pose with the drivers and management for the usual photos.
World champions. The morning was dominated by the final races of the Challenge 2017 for the four class world titles along with the Gentlemen’s Cup and Ladies’ Cup divisions. Switzerland’s Fabio Leimer won the Trofeo Pirelli, with the 488 Challenge of Octane 126, while Jens Liebhauser (Formula Racing) crowned a season to remember by sealing the Trofeo Pirelli Am world title. However, European champion Johnny Laursen, another Formula Racing driver, sealed the Coppa Shell. In this race Henry Hassid (Charles Pozzi) secured the Gentlemen’s Cup, while Fabienne Wohlwend (Octane 126) took the Ladies’ Cup. The final world title, the 458 Challenge EVO class one, went to US driver Joseph Rubbo (Ferrari of Long Island).
FXX-K EVO. The day also saw the last session of the F1 Clienti and XX Programmes, one of Ferrari’s special activities that also starred in the gala evening on Saturday at Stazione Leopolda in Florence. After the award ceremony for the European Ferrari Challenge champions the FXX-K EVO was unveiled. This model is the evolution of the car presented at the 2014 Finali Mondiali. Its 1050-plus hp and hybrid technology derive from the experience gained in the Formula 1 World Championship and in GT racing at the highest level.
Sunday. The highlight of the event was the early afternoon show, which saw the participation of Giancarlo Fisichella, Andrea Bertolini and Davide Rigon in three F60s Formula 1 cars. Rigon then hopped into the 488 GTE, which he usually drives in the World Endurance Championship where he gave the change to teammate Sam Bird. The same happened for car no. 51 with Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado, who currently top the Drivers’ championship, while Ferrari enjoys a healthy lead in the Constructors’ title. F1 Clienti, XX Programmes and a number GT racing cars then completed an extraordinary array of 70 vehicles. Before the usual photos, the 125 S, the first Ferrari ever built, led the parade of cars along with the paratroopers of the Sezione Paracadutismo Sportivo Carabinieri who arrived on the track with the Italian flag and the Prancing Horse in yellow, the symbol of Maranello.
Packed paddock. Thousands of people thronged the paddock, brimming with attractions, for a photo with the Formula 1 cars in the tent dedicated to 70th anniversary or to make a purchase at the Ferrari Store, or even to collect an autograph during the session dedicated to Challenge drivers including Hollywood actor, Michael Fassbender.
TROFEO PIRELLI: LEIMER AND LIEBHAUSER ON TOP OF THE WORLD
The Octane 126 team monopolised the Trofeo Pirelli podium at Mugello. The world title went to Fabio Leimer, who didn’t always compete during the European championship season but was consistently fast over the Finali Mondiali weekend at the Tuscan circuit. There were no surprises in the Trofeo Pirelli Am, won by European champion Jens Liebhauser of Formula Racing.
Trofeo Pirelli. Fabio Leimer started from pole, won by a few thousandths of a second ahead of teammate Bjorn Grossmann. The Swiss set off best to quickly lead his teammate and the rest of the group. Leimer, who this season sometimes raced with the 488 GT3 of Octane 126, won with relative ease as Grossmann played the role of team driver to perfection. Third place went to Sam Smeeth (Stratstone Ferrari), who had a stunning first season, which also saw him win Race-2 at Imola.
Trofeo Pirelli Am. Jens Liebhauser again proved himself in a class of his own this season. The German of Formula Racing dominated the Trofeo Pirelli Am race from start to finish, adding the European title to the world one. Second place went to Canada’s Marc Muzzo, who is the new North American champion but also competed in a few European races. He was at the wheel of the 488 Challenge of Ferrari of Ontario. Sweden’s Martin Nelson took third for Scuderia Autoropa. Britain’s Chris Froggatt (HR Owen) missed out on a top position, paying for an irregularity with a drive through penalty that put him out of the running.
COPPA SHELL: CELEBRATIONS FOR JOHNNY LAURSEN, HENRY HASSID AND FABIENNE WOHLWEND
Johnny Laursen, 2015 European Le Mans Series champion and recent winner of the European Ferrari Challenge, put the icing on the cake of his 2017 season by securing the Coppa Shell world title.
An all-European affair. The battle was fought entirely between European drivers thanks to their intimate knowledge of the Mugello circuit, now a venue for all the major European championships. Johnny Laursen went into the first turn ahead, albeit wheel-to-wheel with French driver Henry Hassid of the Charles Pozzi team. The Danish Formula Racing driver never gained a comfortable margin over his pursuer but his experience helped him keep his cool and win the race. However, Hassid had the consolation of victory in the Gentlemen’s Cup.
A three-woman fight. It was an even more extreme battle for the third step of the podium and the Ladies’ Cup. Manuela Gostner, who went from strength to strength in 2017, secured an excellent fourth place on the grid and started shoulder-to-shoulder with Octane 126 star, Fabienne Wohlwend. The Ineco MP Racing driver set off best to take third forcing the Wohlwend to chase. The woman from Liechtenstein attempted an attack at the two-thirds mark moving into the only space left by the Italian. The two cars came into contact but Wohlwend avoided a penalty and took third place along with the Ladies’ Cup.
JOSEPH RUBBO PIRELLI 458 CHAMPION
Joseph Rubbo (Ferrari Long Island) brought the Trofeo Pirelli 458 World Championship to North America with a lights to flag victory in the final Pirelli 458 Challenge race in the history of Finali Mondiali. Starting from the front row, Joseph held his position through the long turn one, building a lead that he would not relinquish for the thirty minute duration of the race.
Fierce battle. Further back, however, the battle for second and third came down to the final few laps between Martin Berry (Ital Auto Singapore) representing the Asia Pacific region and off the back of two excellent wins earlier in the weekend, held off Naveen Rao (Ferrari San Diego) for much of the race. Representing North America, Naveen had just come off the back of a bitterly competitive championship in North America and clearly relished the opportunity to challenge Joseph Rubbo. But first he would have to pass Martin, and despite having a small pace advantage, Naveen was unable to get close enough to make a meaningful attempt. Until the final laps, that is. Sensing that time was running out, Naveen made a very late lunge down the inside of the final turn, but in the process made contact with Martin’s car. The stewards deemed it a move worthy of penalty, and so Naveen was forced to drive through the pit lane with only a couple of minutes left.
Atar third. This episode promoted Galip Atar (Octane 126) to the final step of the podium, ensuring all three regions of Ferrari Challenge were represented.