It was Eliseo Donno (Radicci Automobili) in the Trofeo Pirelli and Axel Sartingen (Lueg Sportivo - Herter Racing) in the Coppa Shell who took the top steps on the first podiums of the season in the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli Europe, whose 31st edition got underway beneath the Valencian sun. The Ricardo Tormo circuit also celebrated a win for Franz Engstler (Charles Pozzi - GT Racing) on his debut in the Trofeo Pirelli Am, while in the Coppa Shell Am it was a maiden victory for Paolo Scudieri (Sa.Mo.Car.)
Trofeo Pirelli. Pole position, fastest lap of the race and the final win on the Spanish track make Eliseo Donno a sure candidate to become one of the protagonists of the new Prancing Horse single-marque series season. The young driver from Salento, after setting an extraordinary time of 1:34.314 in qualifying, led from pole to flag, leaving all his rivals - including many new faces in the Ferrari Challenge - lagging behind. Among them was Britain’s Thomas Fleming (HR Owen), who finished in runner-up spot after a thrilling 13- place comeback from the grid. Third was another Italian, Max Mugelli (CDP - Eureka Competition) who, after an excellent start, managed to expertly hold on to the lowest step on the podium, fending off overtaking attempts from Szymon Ladniak (Gohm - Scuderia GT), also making his debut in the series.
There was a clear run in the Trofeo Pirelli Am, for Franz Engstler, who dominated the 2022 Coppa Shell season, setting the fastest qualifying and race lap as well as claiming the overall win. Behind him, there were some exciting battles throughout the race, which saw 37 overtakes: Philippe Prette (Formula Racing), five times winner of the Ferrari Challenge APAC, took second place overall, while Hanno Laskowski (Emil Frey) finished third.
Coppa Shell. First triumph of the season for Axel Sartingen, who held on effectively to the pole position he had sealed in qualifying with a 1:36.573 marker. After a Safety Car entrance mid-race, called out while marshals restored order after several consequence-free collisions among the Am class drivers, the German hung on to the lead even on the final white-knuckle lap. Accompanying him on the podium were, in this order, an excellent Manuela Gostner (CDP - MP Racing) and Fons Scheltema (Kessel Racing), who was able to overtake his fellow-countryman Roger Grouwels (Kroymans - Race Art) at the start and set the fastest lap of 1:39.442.
A maiden historic success in the Coppa Shell Am for Paolo Scudieri, in his fourth season in the Ferrari Challenge. The Italian driver from the Sa.Mo.Car. team produced a thrilling comeback from seventh on the grid, emerging from several collisions unscathed, which prematurely ruled out both the day’s polesitters "Boris Gideon" (Autohaus Ulrich) and Motohiko Isozaki (Cornes Motors Shiba), who nevertheless set the fastest lap time. Roland Hertner (Charles Pozzi - GT Racing) finished second, while third was Kirk Baerwaldt (Kessel Racing), after the disqualification at the end of the race of car no. 188 belonging to Joseph Schumacher (Eberlein Automobile), after scrutineering stewards found the car did not comply with Article 3 of the technical regulations.
Sustainability. On the eve of the first round of the season in Valencia, the Ferrari Challenge has seen its environmental sustainability certification confirmed for the third consecutive year. The Prancing Horse championship is the leading single-marque series for thermally powered cars with ISO 20121 certification, recognised by the organising body TÜV NORD Italia.
Programme. Tomorrow, Sunday 26 March, the programme includes the Trofeo Pirelli qualifying at 09:00, with the start of the race scheduled for 14:20. Coppa Shell qualifying will get underway at 12:20, with Coppa Shell Am qualifying at 12:45 and the green flag for Race 2 for both classes at 15:30. All sessions will be viewable live, free of charge, with commentary in English, on live.ferrari.com and on Ferrari’s YouTube channel. In Italy, the races will also be broadcast on the Sky platform.