Round three of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli Europe took place over an overcast and rainy weekend at the Spielberg circuit. The weather tested the teams and drivers, who had to switch to rain tyres after Friday’s tests and Saturday’s qualifying on dry asphalt. The Austrian event featured double wins for Eliseo Donno (Radicci Automobili) in the Trofeo Pirelli and Ernst Kirchmayr (Baron Motorsport) in the Coppa Shell.
The champion’s return. Having chosen his home circuit for his season debut, Ernst Kirchmayr’s return to Ferrari Challenge could not have gone better. After winning the Coppa Shell European and world championship titles in 2021, the Baron Motorsport driver only appeared in a few events in 2022 and had missed the first two rounds of the current season of the Prancing Horse one-make series. Kirchmayr has a special rapport with the Austrian circuit, winning a weather-battered round of the series in 2019 and finishing runner-up twice in 2021.
Home sweet home. Another Austrian, Alexander Nussbaumer, is familiar with the circuit, also known for hosting the Formula 1 GP. The Gohm – Scuderia GT driver proved at ease on his “home” track, securing pole position in the first qualifying session, run on dry asphalt with a time of 1’31"241, and the two runner-up places in the races that took him to fifth in the overall standings. He lies just four points behind Fons Scheltema (Kessel Racing) in second.
The third Austrian involved at the weekend is a newcomer, Christian Windischberger (Baron Motorsport), who, despite the difficult weather, still bagged his first championship point of the season.
Not only prophets in their own country. Franz Engstler is German but lives a few miles from the Spielberg circuit. The 2022 Coppa Shell champion’s comments and the weekend’s results show his particular affinity for this track. The Charles Pozzi GT Racing driver, now competing in the Trofeo Pirelli Am, ended his 2022 winning streak in Race-1, finishing behind Hanno Laskowski (Emil Frey). However, he again climbed the top step of the podium in Race-2.
Swedish driver Christian Kinch also has positive memories of Spielberg. In 2021, he recorded his first Ferrari Challenge victory in Austria in his tenth year of participation. This year, the Gohm - Herter Racing driver had to settle for two seventh places in the Coppa Shell.
The coach’s role. Another Swede, Tommy Lindroth, left Austria with a smile on his face. Now in his thirteenth Ferrari Challenge season, the Baron Motorsport driver came to Austria accompanied by coach Fabienne Wohlwend, who has four seasons in the one-make series from 2017 to 2021 under her belt with two overall second places in the standings. Following intensive training on Friday, starting from fourth on the grid, Lindroth finished third in Race-1 and climbed to second place in Sunday’s tricky second wet race, after lining up in third.
After the race, the Swede was quick to thank Fabienne’s valuable work, along with all the other coaches in the paddock. With the experience many of them have gained in the Ferrari Challenge and other races, they provided the right advice and suggestions.