The thirtieth season of the Ferrari Challenge Europe Trofeo Pirelli kicks off this weekend at the Portimão circuit in Portugal, where forty-six 488 Challenge Evo cars will compete in the first race of the year in the European Prancing Horse one-make series.
Chasing titles. After the success of Michelle Gatting (Iron Lynx), the first female Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli champion, excitement is building to find out who will inscribe their name in the roll of honour. Expectations are high for Doriane Pin (Scuderia Niki – Iron Lynx), who has picked up the baton from the Danish champion, and for the young Finn Luka Nurmi (Formula Racing), reigning Trofeo Pirelli world champion who already broke several records last year due to his youth. Belgian John Wartique (FML - D2P) will seek to follow up on his performance last year, which brought him to the top step of the podium on several occasions. In the Trofeo Pirelli Am, world champion Christian Brunsborg (Formula Racing) is the favourite. However, he will have to deal with the formidable Ange Barde (SF Côte d’Azur Cannes - IB FAST) and Omar Jackson (Kessel Racing). In the Coppa Shell, in the absence of reigning champion Ernst Kirchmayr, his 2021 rival, the experienced American James Weiland (Rossocorsa), is the clear favourite. However, the German Ernst-Albert Berg (Penske Sportwagen Hamburg), Belgian Axel Sartingen (Lueg Sportivo), Polish Roman Ziemian (FML – D2P) and Coppa Shell Am winner, Willem Van der Vorm (Scuderia Monte-Carlo) from Monaco, will do battle. The Gostner family (CDP) makes a welcome return to the series with Corinna, Manuela and Thomas competing in the Coppa Shell, while David will race in the Trofeo Pirelli Am. In the Coppa Shell Am, historically the scene of exciting duels between gentlemen drivers at the wheel of the 488 Challenge Evo, world champion Peter Christensen (Formula Racing) will seek to confirm his supremacy in the face of the attacks of Italians Paolo Scudieri (Sa.Mo.Car) and Giuseppe Ramelli (Rossocorsa - Pellin Racing) and Swedes Tommy Lindroth (Baron Motorsport) and Joakim Olander (Scuderia Autoropa).
New faces. As usual, entries in the series will be divided into four classes based on experience and level of competitiveness: Trofeo Pirelli and Trofeo Pirelli Am, Coppa Shell and Coppa Shell Am. Six drivers will appear in the European championship for the first time, with four making their absolute debut in the one-make series. Spain’s Andujar Pulido (Formula Racing) will line up for the Trofeo Pirelli Am, Germany’s Franz Engstler (Scuderia GT), and Austria’s Andreas König (Scuderia GT) will compete in the Coppa Shell. The UK’s Mark Bailey (Scuderia Monte-Carlo) will race in the Coppa Shell Am. Mexican Luis Perusquia (Rossocorsa) and Andrew Gilbert (Kessel Racing), previously involved in the North America and Asia Pacific series, will be making their first appearance in the Ferrari Challenge Europe.
30 years. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli, a 348 Challenge that was the first to be used in the series will be on display. The car’s special feature is the conversion kit, which once disassembled allows the vehicle to return to its road-going configuration. The 348 Challenge’s V8 engine unleashed 320 bhp, 20 more than the road version.
Schedule. The event programme includes free practice on Friday, while on Saturday and Sunday, from 9 to 10.15 am, the Trofeo Pirelli and Coppa Shell qualifying sessions will take place. The Trofeo Pirelli race will set off at 1.20 p.m. and the Coppa Shell at 3.50 p.m. In both cases, thirty minutes will separate the lights going out and the chequered flag. Qualifying and the races will be broadcast live and free of charge with English-language commentary on Ferrari’s YouTube channel.