The Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli Europe made its maiden outing at the Estoril circuit, a few kilometres outside Lisbon, for its fifth round of the season. It was also a debut for most of the drivers in the single-marque series on the technical and high-speed Portuguese track, created in 1972 and also a long-running venue on the Formula 1 race calendar.
Max Attaque. Among the few familiar with the Estoril track is expert driver Max Mugelli of CDP - Eureka Competition. He played a leading role between 2016 and 2017 with a French team in the VdeV European Championship, clinching titles and pole positions; he is remembered by his fun nickname Max Attaque for his skill against the stopwatch.
The driver from Tuscany once again performed well at the weekend in the Prancing Horse single-marque series, coming away with two invaluable third places.
Young drivers do battle. The Trofeo Pirelli 2023 honours list seems to have the name of 17-year-old Eliseo Donno from Salento (Radicci Automobili) written all over it, having already managed to clinch four wins out of the first six races of the season. But Thomas Fleming (HR Ower - FF Corse) has other ideas: his double-win at Estoril takes him to 23 points behind the leader.
The 20-year-old British driver showed in Portugal that he continues to bond well with the 488 Challenge Evo, which he had already taken to the top step of the podium in Misano. The closely-fought double-header on the Portuguese track promises a tight end-of-the-season battle between the young drivers, who will meet at Spa-Francorchamps in September before the Finali Mondiali at Mugello.
MH7. Mohamed Hamdy, the Egyptian driver from the Ezz Elarab Automotive Company, showed up in Portugal with a new number on the livery of his 488 Challenge Evo. The number 37 has been replaced by the number 7. Hamdy explains that this is a lucky number as the initial of his name is very similar to the number 7 in Arabic.
For the driver, who was also followed at Estoril by around 30 fans from around the world, fate was not entirely on his side, with two early exits from the track in the weekend’s two races.
German drivers reign in Coppa Shell. The 2023 Coppa Shell has a decidedly German flavour. The fact was proved again in Estoril, where drivers from the country monopolised the entire weekend points haul: the only remaining point not secured by the round’s commanding force Axel Sartingen (Lueg Sportivo - Herter Racing) was, indeed, claimed by fellow countryman Christian Herdt-Wipper (Emil Frey Sportivo) who registered the fastest lap in Race-2.
Combined with the Race-1 win in the Coppa Shell Am by Josef Schumacher (Eberlein Automobile) and the domination of Franz Engstler (Charles Pozzi GT Racing) in the Trofeo Pirelli Am, the single-marque series is taking on a strong German feel.