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    Ferrari Challenge UK, reports from Spa paddock

    Spa-Francorchamps 22 settembre 2023

    The Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli UK 2023 season wrapped up with round five contested at Spa-Francorchamps. This finale took place across the English Channel in Belgium, along with the sixth leg of the Prancing Horse’s European one-make series. The year’s two champions were crowned at the historic Ardennes circuit: Andrew Morrow (Charles Hurst) in the Trofeo Pirelli and Paul Hogarth (Stratstone Manchester) in the Coppa Shell.

    Star of the season. Morrow’s tenth podium of the season brought him the ultimate prize of the Trofeo Pirelli championship, after yet another outstanding performance. Morrow took three victories and ten podiums, thus finishing in the top three in every race, fully deserving his leading position in the overall standings after a highly positive season.

    Trofeo Coppa Dealer. London-based HR Owen won the Trofeo Coppa Dealer with 185 points, capping an extraordinary season. Charles Hurst ranked second place with 135 points, while Stratstone Manchester came a close third with 134.

    The winners’ club. Many drivers climbed the top step of the podium at least once. Champion Morrow was number one in the Trofeo Pirelli with three victories, alongside H. Sikkens (HR Owen), third in the final standings, while Carl Cavers (Graypaul Nottingham), second, has two wins to his name. Faisal Al-Faisal (HR Owen) and John Dhillon (Graypaul Nottingham) scored one win apiece. Of the drivers mentioned, only Morrow finished on the podium in every race. In the Coppa Shell, the champion Hogarth celebrated six wins; Paul Simmerson (Graypaul Birmingham), in second place, bagged two victories, while Chris Smith (Graypaul Birmingham) and Robert Rees (Dick Lovett Swindon) scored one each.

    Land of conquest. Championship winner Andrew Morrow spoke about the Spa track. “It’s an iconic track but also a very complicated one. Many of us took some time to find the right balance.” Indeed, Spa was a completely new challenge for almost all the drivers, with only John Dhillon having raced here before. “The track has changed a lot,” said the driver. “The checks on compliance with the track limits are very stringent this weekend. There’s a lot of gravel, and you can’t run wide, which can be limiting. It’s an excellent circuit, probably my favourite.”

    Paul versus Paul. The reckoning between Paul Simmerson and Paul Hogarth came down to the last weekend of the season. “It all comes down to Spa, to a battle in the jungle!” commented Simmerson, who was only two points behind his friend Hogarth ahead of Race-2. The title then went to the latter even before the start: Simmerson’s car withdrew because of damage suffered during an accident in qualifying, effectively handing the title to his opponent. The championship’s third Paul, Rogers, finished the year in fifth place.

    On top of the world. Challenge newcomer Robert Rees (Dick Lovett, Swindon) spoke candidly before taking to the track, revealing his apprehension about the faster tracks (Silverstone and Spa). “The problem with Spa is that it envelops you… I was almost scared of this track.” However, he earned the first pole of his Coppa Shell career in Race-1 at lunchtime. “I feel like I’m on top of the world. I’m so excited!” he exclaimed. “I made the lap time I set myself this morning and wanted to achieve. A personal goal achieved here in Spa, with my family: there’s nothing better.” Rees’ dream continued with first place in Race-1, an unforgettable achievement he deserved after an outstanding performance.

    Future. The big Belgian end-of-season event was also a chance t present next season’s Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli calendars. The 2024 British series will kick off with the Brands Hatch leg from 19 to 21 April, followed by Oulton Park from 10 to 11 May and Snetterton from 8 to 9 June. Donington will be back on the calendar from 20 to 21 July before the final round at Silverstone from 13 to 15 September.