The maiden outing of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli Europe at the Fernanda Pires da Silva circuit in Estoril saw Thomas Fleming (HR Owen - FF Corse) take top honours in a thrilling battle at the Trofeo Pirelli and Axel Sartingen (Lueg Sportivo - Herter Racing) in the Coppa Shell, consolidating his overall lead. The technical and fast circuit near Lisbon also saw Franz Engstler (Charles Pozzi GT Racing) back to his winning ways in the Trofeo Pirelli Am and Josef Schumacher (Eberlein Automobile) claiming his first win in the Prancing Horse single-marque series in the Coppa Shell Am.
Trofeo Pirelli. The tightly-fought contest between Eliseo Donno (Radicci Automobili) and Thomas Fleming, which began in the qualifying session with the driver from Salento taking pole position by just 27 milliseconds, reached its decisive moment midway through the thirty-minute race. The Englishman, able to gradually whittle down the gap to the leader, attempted an overtake: the two cars came into contact and the young driver from Italy was penalised by the stewards with a Drive Through that effectively ruled out any chances of a podium. Fleming, as racing resumed after a Safety Car entrance following contact between the drivers in Am class, managed to fend off repeated overtaking attempts by Szymon Ladniak (Gohm - Scuderia GT), to eventually take the chequered flag for a second win of the season. Third place went to Max Mugelli (CDP - Eureka Competition) who produced a steady race, while Donno still managed to set the fastest lap time of 1'39"253, the only one to go below the 1'40" barrier, earning him a bonus point.
Equally thrilling was the Trofeo Pirelli Am race, featuring no less than thirty-one overtakes. The winner turned out to be Franz Engstler, who after a start complicated by a mid-group collision, was able to fight back and retake the top spot against Hanno Laskowski (Emil Frey Sportivo) in the final stretches of the race, after a Safety Car had been called out following contact between Nicolò Rosi (Kessel Racing) and Mohamed Hamdy (Ezz Elarab Automotive Company), with the Egyptian forced to retire after a nevertheless positive performance. Behind the German, edging away at the head of the overall standings, was the young British driver James Owen (Meridien Modena - FF Corse), who sealed an excellent runner-up spot in his debut season in the Ferrari Challenge, ahead of Laskowski in third. Marco Zanasi (CDP - Pinetti Motorsport) had an unlucky race, forced to abandon the battle for the podium after going off track in the latter stages, but having produced the best qualifying lap of 1'39"825 and the fastest lap time in the race of 1'40"728.
Coppa Shell. Starting from pole position thanks to a qualifying lap of 1'40"228, Axel Sartingen made a commanding defence of the race lead in the tricky opening phase, going on to take his fourth win of the season. Combined with the bonus point for the fastest lap of the race, this triumph allows him to further extend his lead in the standings over Manuela Gostner (CDP - MP Racing), who was forced to retire after a collision at the first corner with Christian Herdt-Wipper (Emil Frey Sportivo), prompting the first Safety Car entrance. Behind the German was Thomas Gostner (CDP - MP Racing), who was able to fend off a fervent Fons Scheltema (Kessel Racing), third, in a very closely-fought finale, following a third Safety Car deployed after several collisions — without consequences for the drivers — had re-bunched the group once again.
In the Coppa Shell Am, after an eleven-position comeback from the starting grid and a last gasp spectacular overtaking manoeuvre on pole sitter Motohiko Isozaki (Cornes Motors Shiba), Joseph Schumacher took his first win in the Ferrari Challenge Europe, in his fourth year of participation, ahead of a positive Paolo Scudieri (Sa.Mo.Car.), who was also able to outclass the Japanese driver in the final stages. Henrik Kamstrup (Formula Racing) narrowly missed out on the podium, but still collected a bonus point for the best lap time of 1'43"768.
Programme. The Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo cars will be back on track on Sunday for the second day of racing, with Coppa Shell Qualifying at 9.00 a.m. and the Coppa Shell Am at 9.30 a.m. with the race getting underway at 2.20 p.m. The Trofeo Pirelli Qualifying session will kick off at 11.40 a.m. with the start of Race-2 at 3.30 p.m. All times are local.