Day one of racing at Paul Ricard for round two of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli Europe -now in its 30th year - with the on-track presence of the historic F355 Challenge, the second car in the chronology of the Prancing Horse single-marque series also featuring in the celebrations. The Trofeo Pirelli win went to former-Formula 1 driver Adrian Sutil (Gohm Motorsport), making his series debut, while Frenchman Ange Barde (SF Côte d'Azur Cannes -IB FAST) came out on top in Am class. In Coppa Shell, Roman Ziemian (FML - D2P) claimed his maiden win in the European championship, with Joakim Olander (Scuderia Autoropa) first in the Am class.
Trofeo Pirelli. After thirty drama-filled minutes, it was Adrian Sutil who seized the Race 1 win, fending off overtaking attempts in the final stages from a combative John Wartique, who missed out on first place by just 391 milliseconds. The decisive race moment occurred with five minutes to go, when Doriane Pin (Scuderia Niki - Iron Lynx), who had so far been able to withstand the aggressive start from the experienced ex-Formula 1 driver and edge away at the head of the field, was forced to come back to the pit with a puncture. Pin had to settle for the partial consolation of the fastest lap with a 2:05.249 marker. On the third step of the podium was Finn Luka Nurmi (Formula Racing).
Compelling battles also in the Am class, with Christian Brunsborg (Formula Racing) trying to pull a surprise on Ange Barde at the start. However, the transalpine driver held onto the lead to eventually seal the triumph, claiming the fastest lap in the process, for a third win on the spin in an extraordinary season start. The young Danish driver managed to fend off assaults from a bellicose Arno Dahlmeyer (Scuderia Niki - Iron Lynx), who left Italian Nicolò Rosi (Kessel Racing) just 543 milliseconds shy of the podium.
Coppa Shell. After a vibrant, hard-fought race, Roman Ziemian clinched a maiden season victory. The Polish driver, starting from pole position, grittily and skillfully fended off his pursuers’ attacks and, after a white-knuckle final lap, was able to cross the finish line ahead of Franz Engstler (Scuderia GT) by just 258 milliseconds. No less hard-fought was the battle for the third step of the podium which saw Axel Sartingen (Lueg Sportivo - Herter Racing) prevail in the end, able to contain a great comeback from Manuela Gostner (CDP - MP Racing), who produced some spectacular overtakes, first on Johnny Laursen (Formula Racing) and later on Ernst Kirchmayr (Baron Motorsport), also claiming the fastest lap in of 2:07.729.
The other Coppa Shell Am race might have seemed slightly more subdued, witnessing an authoritative performance from victor Joakim Olander. The Scuderia Autoropa flag- bearer – who also notched up the fastest lap – held onto the top position from the start,coming under siege mid-race from Alexander Nussbaumer’s (Gohm Motorsport) attempted pull-back who had to eventually settle for a nonetheless noteworthy second position. With an effort beginning at the race start, Martinus Richter (MERTEL Motorsport Racing) climbed nine positions to post a valuable third place final finish.
Programme. Tomorrow, Sunday 15th May, will see a repeat performance at the Paul Ricard circuit, with timed practice getting underway at 09:00, the start of the second Coppa Shell race scheduled for 13.30 and the Trofeo Pirelli at 16.00.