The third round of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli Asia Pacific produced a carbon-copy of the previous round held in Abu Dhabi, with a spectacular show on track. In Dubai, in the second of the two events that make up the "Winter Series", which is also open to drivers from the other Prancing Horse series, Race 1 offered some fantastic action in all the classes.
In the Trofeo Pirelli AM class, after a push in the early laps, Christian Brunsborg (Formula Racing) looked set to start the weekend in the same dominating fashion that had seen him clinch three wins in Abu Dhabi, but Ange Barde had different plans. Driving the SF Cote D’Azur Cannes – IB Fast entry, the Frenchman closed the 2-second gap to his Danish rival, completed a forceful pass to take the lead and sailed away undisturbed to take the checkered flag with a 6 second advantage. Brunsborg followed in second place, preceding his teammate and fellow Dane Claus Zibrandtsen who secured the final spot on the podium.
After that in Qualifying only one tenth had separated polesitter Tani Hanna from Roman Ziemian, Coppa Shell saw the driver from Poland find an extra gear. Flying the colors of local dealer Al Tayer Motors, Ziemian passed Hanna at the start and opened the gap lap after lap, boasting a pace that allowed him to finish the race on the tail of the Trofeo Pirelli AM runners. Behind him, however, the fight for the remaining steps of the podium was a thrilling one. Coming back to Ferrari Challenge after a long hiatus, 2019 Coppa Shell Europe champion Hanna (Al Tayer Motors) finished just one second ahead of Ernst Kirchmayr (Baron Motorsport) with a very controlled drive. The Austrian driver, fresh off his win in Finali Mondiali in Mugello, mounted a late charge to pass Jay Park (FMK) for third with just a handful of laps to go: he then kept pushing to finish strong, albeit not close enough to try a move on Hanna. Taking the flag in P4, Park was just shy of a podium finish, but with performances very close to those of the Coppa Shell elite, he can be more than satisfied with his race.
After animating the Coppa Shell AM battle in Yas Marina, Kirk Baerwaldt (Blackbird Concessionnaires) and Rene Matera (Scuderia Praha) were at it again in Dubai Autodrome. Baerwaldt struck the first blow by taking pole in Qualifying, but Matera responded by overtaking his rival at the end of lap 1. The gap between the two never rising above half a second, Baerwaldt passed to retake the lead before half-race. Just when it seemed that this duel could last for the whole race, a spun by Matera ended it abruptly: with the Czech driver able to restart his car only when the rest of the pack had gone by, second place was inherited by Brett Jacobson. The Ferrari of Houston driver seemed invigorated by the prospect of a possible win and pushed hard to close the gap to the leader, crossing the line just three tenths adrift of the top spot. Third under the checkered flag was Andrew Gilbert for Al Tayer Motors: the Club Challenge Middle East graduate took a podium at his second weekend in Challenge APAC, proving both his talent and the importance of Club Challenge as a stepping stone to Ferrari’s exclusive one-make series.
Schedule. Race 2 and 3 will take place tomorrow at 9:30 AM and 1.15 PM local time respectively.