The historic Imola racetrack, just half-an-hour's drive south east of the city of Bologna, last week hosted the first Ferrari Challenge event of 2020.
The much-anticipated meeting signalled to the motor sports world that racing was literally back on track following the four-month suspension caused by the Covid-19 epidemic.
And the fact that Imola hosted the event carried especial significance for Italian racing fans. The town is fiercely proud of being located in the Ferrari heartland of Emilia-Romagna, a region that has been amongst the hardest hit by the deadly epidemic.
The complete absence of spectators, due to health precautions, robbed the spectacle of much of the usual race-day vibe, but drivers and teams all acquitted themselves in a great sense of competition. Organisers had agreed a detailed series of precautions in order to stage the event, with mask-wearing obligatory, rigorous sanitising procedures, and social distancing practiced wherever possible.
Marking the much-delayed start of the twenty-eighth season of Ferrari Challenge, it was the first edition since the previous season had rounded off in September 2019. This season's new model, the 488 Challenge Evo, debuted at Imola, representing the latest in an illustrious line of Challenge models that stretches back to include the 348, the F355, the 360, the F430 and the 458 Challenge.
The weather was perfect, and the competition at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari was keen.
The weekend's winners were:
Emanuele Maria Tabacchi (Rossocorsa), who won both races in the Trofeo Pirelli;
Roger Grouwels (Kroymans Automotive) Coppa Shell race 1;
Ernst Kirchmayr (Baron Motorsport) Coppa Shell race 2;
Matus Vyboh, double victory in the Trofeo Pirelli AM;
Michael Simoncic, double victory in the Coppa Shell AM.
Notable second-places included London-based Dutchman Laurent De Meeus in Coppa Shell AM, and women racers were well placed with Fabienne Wohlwend, the up-and-coming 22 year-old from Lichtenstein finishing runner-up in the Trofeo Pirelli.
It's great to be back...