After the extraordinary experience at Le Mans as a support race to the Centenary edition of the iconic 24 Hours, the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli Europe is back on track next weekend for its fifth round. The Circuito do Estoril, near Lisbon, will host the 488 Challenge Evo and the drivers ready to embark on the season’s hottest and most decisive phase.
Trofeo Pirelli. Given the announced absence of the young Hungarian Bence Valint (Rossocorsa – Ferrari Budapest), third in the overall standings, in Portugal, it will be Thomas Fleming (HR Owen – FF Corse) and Max Mugelli (CDP – Eureka Competition) who will attempt to interrupt Eliseo Donno’s (Radicci Automobili) quick march towards the 2023 title. The man from Salento tops the standings with 100 points on the back of four victories and two second places, plus fast laps and pole positions that have already made him the undisputed star of the top class. Behind him, Fleming is 33 points back in second place, while Mugelli is fourth with a 40-point gap.
In the Trofeo Pirelli Am, despite leaving the Circuit de la Sarthe empty-handed, Franz Engstler (Charles Pozzi GT Racing) is firmly in the lead, 26 points ahead of Hanno Laskowski (Emil Frey Sportivo). The class’s other contenders are further behind but still determined to achieve success and score valuable points, starting with David Gostner (CDP – MP Racing), second at Le Mans, and Nicolò Rosi (Kessel Racing).
Coppa Shell. After her prestigious victory in the last round, Manuela Gostner (CDP – MP Racing) will attempt to keep the title race alive. Axel Sartingen (Lueg Sportivo – Herter Racing) is the clear favourite on 97 points, 33 more than the Italian, after three wins, two second places and a third. A tight battle is raging for the other positions in the standings, with the veteran Fons Scheltema (Kessel Racing) third. He will have to fend off a comeback attempt by Alexander Nussbaumer (Gohm – Scuderia GT) in fifth, 10 points behind the Dutchman, who is ready to take advantage of the absence of Willem van der Vorm (Scuderia Monte-Carlo). The Estoril round will see a return to Ferrari Challenge for Thomas Löfflad (Gohm - Baron Motorsport) with five seasons in the Prancing Horse one-make series and the 2016 class title to his credit.
Martinus Richter (MERTEL Motorsport), currently second in the standings behind leader Kirk Baerwaldt (Kessel Racing), after his victories at Misano, Spielberg and Le Mans, will not line up at Estoril for the Coppa Shell Am. Baerwaldt will try to stretch his lead in the absence of his closest pursuer. However, the Singaporean driver will face fierce competition, in particular from Motohiko Isozaki (Cornes Motors Shiba), fresh from two unfortunate races, Henrik Kamstrup (Formula Racing), who claimed an excellent second in France, Tommy Lindroth (Baron Motorsport), who is improving his performance, and Stefano Marazzi (Rossocorsa), fourth at Le Mans.
Programme. As part of the Ferrari Racing Days, after the free practice sessions, the Ferrari Challenge Europe will hold its first qualifying sessions on Saturday, with the Coppa Shell Am at 9 a.m. and the Coppa Shell at 9.30 a.m. The green flag for Race-1 is at 2.20 p.m. Trofeo Pirelli qualifying will be at 11.40 a.m., with the first race starting at 5.25 p.m. On Sunday 16th, Coppa Shell qualifying is at 9.00 a.m. and the Coppa Shell Am at 9.30 a.m., with Race-2 again at 2.20 p.m. After the time trials at 11.40 a.m., the Trofeo Pirelli will set off at 3.30 p.m. All times are local. Qualifying and the races will be shown live, free and with English-language commentary, at live.ferrari.com and on the “Ferrari” YouTube channel. In Italy, the Sky platform will broadcast all races live on Sky Sport F1 (channel 207). In the UK, Sky Sports F1 will broadcast Saturday's races live and Sunday's races deferred at 11pm for the Coppa Shell and midnight for the Trofeo Pirelli respectively. All races in Germany will be broadcast live on Sky Sports F1.