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    Ferrari Challenge Europe - “Babalus”, Nelson and Loefflad shine at Monza

    02 aprile 2016

    Monza, 2 April 2016 – Matteo “Babalus” Santoponte, Martin Nelson and Thomas Loefflad, of StileF Squadra Corse, are the winners of the first race of the 2016 Ferrari Challenge Europe season. Two wins went to Scuderia Autoropa that had a very good Saturday after a very difficult Friday when Christian Hobohm lost control of his 458 Challenge EVO damaging it during the first free practice session.   Trofeo Pirelli. At the start "Babalus" held onto the first place won in the morning's qualifying, entering the first chicane ahead of Philipp Baron (Rossocorsa) and European champion Bjorn Grossmann (Octane 126). All sorts of drama went on behind the leaders, with a series of contacts involving rookie Galip Atar but also Marcello Puglisi, John Farano, Andreas Segler and Giuseppe Ramelli. "Babalus" and Baron fought it out alone, duelling as they lapped at pace and never much more than a hair's breadth apart. Grossmann was untroubled back in third, while immediately behind, David Gostner (MP Racing), Vezzoni (Rossocorsa-Pellin Racing) and Danis (Scuderia Praha) had quite a battle. The last lap was thrilling, with "Babalus" going wide at the first chicane and Baron almost managing to slip past. Grossmann secured third. This was a seventh win for "Babalus" from 16 races.   Pirelli Am. Englishman Sam Smeeth started fastest from pole in the Pirelli Am class, gaining ground on all his rivals. However, the Stratstone Ferrari team driver was later overtaken by Martin Nelson, 2015 European championship runner-up, who notched up his sixth win. Third place saw a tight all-Swiss fight between Andrea Benenati (StileF Squadra Corse) and Benjamin Fischer (Octane 126), with Benenati coming out on top to secure his first career podium.   Coppa Shell. The last race of the day offered quite a show right from the start. Thomas Loefflad kept first place while Thomas Gostner in fourth triggered a crash at the first chicane, colliding with his MP Racing teammate Erich Prinoth and slowing Renato Di Amato (CDP). Loefflad took advantage of this initial tussle. By the end of the first lap he was nearly five seconds ahead of Fons Scheltema (Kessel Racing) and more than seven in front of Murat Ruhi Cuhadaroglu of Kessel Racing, who on the following lap span off at the first Lesmo corner. As a result, Rick Lovat (Kessel Racing) moved up into third while Tani Hanna (Motor Service) and Di Amato began a great fight for fourth, which the Italian only secured on the last lap. Scheltema also won the Gentlemen's Cup for the over-55s, while victory in the newly minted Ladies' Cup went to a brilliant Deborah Mayer, the French rookie who finished 12th overall. Tomorrow Trofeo Pirelli Race-2 is at 12.35, Coppa Shell at 15.20.