Race 2 of the Round 3 of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli UK took place on the historic and challenging GP circuit at Brands Hatch.
Qualifying 2. Late drama surprised the crowd at Brands as Graham De Zille (Meridien, Modena) went half a second clear from the pack on his favourite track, posting a sensational time of 1:29:454 to secure the critical front spot for Race 2 on the GP circuit. Paul Hogarth (Stratstone, Manchester) delivered a last ditch 1:30:795 to set pole in Coppa Shell once again, this time, with just two minutes of the session to spare. With more miles, corners and variables to navigate, the will and wisdom of the series’ two most experienced drivers was undeniable as they lead the Race 2 grid in each class.
Trofeo Pirelli. 18 drivers stormed into the first bend with equal tenacity, with De Zille desperately defending for track position through the first exchange as Carl Cavers (Graypaul, Nottingham) attempted to go the long way around. As they roared around through the trees and made their way back to Clearways, Race 1 winner H. Sikkens (HR Owen, London) went off into the gravel to send him tumbling down the field, all but guaranteeing a new winner up ahead.
Series leader, Andrew Morrow (Charles Hurst, Belfast) set off in pursuit of Faisal al Faisal (HR Owen, London) who was twitching sideways up ahead to valiantly defend third, before falling prey to a box office pass up the inside with just millimetres between the pair. Faisal narrowly missed Morrow when retaking the spot, before Morrow returned fire yet again a corner later to take third position once again. Meanwhile, De Zille had built up a comfortable lead of 2.5 seconds at the front, which disintegrated after a Coppa Shell car spun to produce a Safety Car. With 12 minutes to go, racing resumed over the start line as Morrow hurtled into Turn 1, attempting to go round the outside of Cavers up ahead without success.
Faisal tried to replicate the move he’d seen Morrow attempt on Cavers, which inspired him to take an audacious line around Druids himself, but the Northern Irishman held his nerve to maintain the position with some clever manoeuvring as the two went wheel to wheel out of the apex.
Sikkens received a drive-through penalty for causing a collision with Robert Rees (Dick Lovett, Swindon), which brought out another Safety Car to compact the field once again. Morrow took advantage of a tow all the way down the hill, forcing Cavers to forfeit second place. Now clear, Morrow went on to set the fastest lap of the race in the penultimate lap, though it wouldn’t be enough to derail the experienced De Zille, who claimed his first win of the campaign at the track he holds most dear. Faisal’s final lap charge to steal Cavers’ podium place saw him spin off, as the rest went on to take the chequered flag, in what was surely the best race of the season so far.
Coppa Shell. Paul Simmerson (Graypaul, Birmingham) made an audacious start as he flew out of the blocks to move from fourth to first in the opening lap. Having finished on the second step in five races this season, Simmerson’s resolve would be severely tested as a threefold frenzy quickly ensued. With Paul Rogers (JCT600, Leeds) still in third, the trio of Pauls drove nose to tail for several laps as Hogarth relentlessly applied the pressure to his friendly rival seeking a victory. Whilst the top three battled it out, Stuart Marston (Maranello Sales, Egham) had been quietly creeping up the table having already bettered his starting position of seventh to sixth on the opening lap and leapfrogging a further two places to catch the trio fighting for podium positions.
As three became four with the Maranello man gaining ground, Hogarth, in second, began to consider a move of his own. He took multiple looks up the inside of Simmerson in an attempt to distract him, before William Tewiah (Graypaul, Birmingham) spun into the gravel at Paddock Hill and brought out a Safety Car. At the exact point of the spin, Marston made a move on Rogers before he could see the Safety Car had been deployed, meaning that he was permitted to retain the third place.
The restart only lasted two minutes before a second Safety Car was deployed with 10 minutes to go, this time due to an unfortunate spin from Robert Rees (Dick Lovett, Swindon). Simmerson, who had defended for his life all race long, was now going to be tasked with yet another restart as Hogarth gave it one last shot to remain unbeaten.
While battling for first, Hogarth hadn’t noticed a now sideways Marston, screeching towards the rear of his vehicle, as six cars jostled for position into the penultimate bend. Marston got the better of Hogarth on the apex with a fantastic amount of bravery, claiming another second place this season after a fantastic weekend. Champagne never tasted so sweet for Simmerson, who was met with overjoyed crowds on his pitlane return for what was a thoroughly deserved win.
Trofeo Pirelli. Morrow continues to lead the championship with 88 points after a good performance this weekend. Sikkens is now just one point from Cavers in second and third, with 72 and 71 points respectively.
Coppa Shell. Hogarth storms the table on 95 points after another superb weekend, Simmerson stays in second with 73, whilst Marston creeps into third on 49.
Calendar. The fourth round of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli UK takes place at the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit from September 1-3, as part of the Ferrari Racing Days weekend which also includes the F1 Clienti and XX Programmes.