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    Drivers Survive the Heat, Excel at Sebring

    Sebring, Florida 07 aprile 2019

    Sweltering heat continued, accompanied by even higher humidity on Sunday, making things even harder for the drivers of Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli.  The Ferrari 488 Challenge, however, stood up to the bumps and bruises of Sebring International Raceway well, as drivers fought to come to grips with the high speed and low grip offered by the nearly 70 year old racing surface.

    Trofeo Pirelli. Cooper MacNeil made a statement at Sebring International Raceway with a dominant win in Race 2, beating Thomas Tippl by nearly 15 seconds.  After some issues robbed Cooper of pace on Saturday, he switched to the back up car and his weekend completely changed.  Starting with qualifying, Cooper carried his pace advantage into the race.  The opening lap was full of high drama but excellent heads-up driving ensured everyone made it through safely.  Benjamin Hites (The Collection) was the main victim of the drama when a big wiggle forced him wide and back into the field.  That allowed Thomas Tippl (Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari of Beverly Hills) through to second while Ben had to fight forward, passing Trofeo Pirelli and Trofeo Pirelli AM competitors alike.  Ultimately, he was able to regain his footing in third and closed to within six tenths of a second of Thomas, but could not pass.

    Trofeo Pirelli AM.  Ziad Ghandour (Boardwalk Ferrari) solidified himself as a podium contender in the Trofeo Pirelli AM category, beating out Barry Zekelman (Ferrari of Ontario) and Brent Holden (Scuderia CAVA, Ferrari of Newport Beach).  Ziad and Barry Zekelman both spent much of their races mixing up with the Trofeo Pirelli category, especially Barry as he contested overall finishing position with Benjamin Hites.  Ziad was six seconds up the road, while Barry was a further five seconds ahead of Brent.  Brent, however, did an excellent job to hold up yesterday’s winner, Neil Gehani (Continental Autosport), as the two finished only three tenths of a second apart.

    Coppa Shell. Mark Issa (Ferrari of Atlanta) made good on the pace he showed throughout the weekend with a win on Sunday leading home Dale Katechis (Miller Motorcars) and Geoff Palermo (Ferrari of San Francisco).  A dramatic start saw Danny Baker run wide at Turn 1 and then spin at turn five, sending him plummeting back towards the back of the pack.  That left Mark and Dale to build a gap over the rest of the field, something they did with relative ease.  Geoff Palermo, however, had a dramatic race, making some strong passes at some of Sebring’s tighter corners.  The high speed of the Ferrari 488 Challenge car, combined with tight corners at the end of long straights meant it was frequently the last of the late brakers that prevailed.  Ultimately, an incident in the Coppa Shell AM category brought the race to a conclusion as the field was slowed behind the safety car and took the checkered flag to end the race.

    Coppa Shell AM. Brian Davis (Ferrari of Palm Beach) dominated the Coppa Shell AM category, running a lights to flag victory where he frequently diced with the more experienced drivers in the Coppa Shell category until the late caution period confirmed his status as the Race 2 winner.  He led home Jay Schreibman (Cauley Ferrari of Detroit) and Brad Horstman (Foreign Cars Italia).  Jay also captured the Gentleman’s Cup trophy for Sunday.  The leading Lady’s Cup contender, Lisa Clark, however, crashed out in Turn 12, and thus Debra Palermo (Ferrari of San Francisco) earned her first Lady’s Cup win of 2019.

    Schedule. The North American series of Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli will return to racing on the second weekend of May for Ferrari Racing Days.  The Ferrari Challenge drivers will join once again with the XX Program and F1 Clienti for the annual Ferrari Racing Days extravaganza.