18 giugno 2016
Le Mans, 18 June 2016 - As the crowds gathered during the early hours of race day for the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans, so too did the procession of nearly 45 Ferrari 458 Challenge EVOs on the grid line beneath the vast grandstands and WEC garages. Supporting the French endurance classic, the Ferrari Challenge Europe saw a 40-minute race today, completed with hair-raising lead changes and intense overtaking at all corners of the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe.
The race. Although the rookie and first-time pole man had a successful start when the green flag waved, Alberto Cola (Rossocorsa-Pellin Racing) was overtaken by Bjorn Grossman (Octane 126) in the first chicane. In the same location Martin Nelson (Scuderia Autoropa) and Florian Merckx (Baron Service) were involved in a collision, causing the race to go into a full-course caution. But the excitement was about to begin. Coming into the Mulsanne straight, Grossman and Puglisi were head-to-head for the lead, but Philipp Baron (Rossocorsa) was ready to overtake for his chance at the front. Although the moment may have seemed right, Baron clipped Grossman from the rear, causing Grossman to swerve out of his pace and fall back to 14th position. Baron would suffer a drive through penalty for causing the collision. Another yellow flag was waved due some action between Jan Danis (Scuderia Praha) and John Farano (Rossocorsa), leading Danis straight into the gravel trap. However, with eight minutes left to the race, the green flag wove one last time for Marcello Puglisi (Rossocorsa) to take his lead ahead of Cola and Baron.
The winners. Ultimately, Puglisi would take his first victory for the Trofeo Pirelli class in today's race. Grossman, who found himself in the middle of the pack, accomplished a second place finish. Gostner, who clocked the fastest lap with a 4:07:442 came in third but the Ineco-MP Racing driver was later penalized and relegated to fourth place behind Alessandro Vezzoni (Rossocorsa-Pellin Racing). Sam Smeeth (Stratstone Ferrari), who found himself racing among the drivers of the Trofeo Pirelli class, finished first in his Pirelli Am class. This is the Brit's fourth win this season. In second was Steve Wyatt (Motor Service), and Henrik Hedman (Scuderia Autoropa) stood in third place for the class. For the Coppa Shell class, Vladimir Hladik (Scuderia Praha) took home the top finish for the first time this year in the Coppa Shell class. Thomas Loefflad (StileF Squadra Corse), who currently leads the Coppa Shell championship points, finished in second while the Dutch Fons Scheltema (Kessel Racing) came in third. The next round for the 2016 season is July 29-31 in Sochi, Russia.