The Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia will host the opening round of the 2023 Ferrari Challenge Europe season. The thirty-first edition of the Maranello brand’s one-make series should be as spectacular and adrenalin-fuelled as ever, with forty-seven 488 Challenge Evos on the track at the first round in Spain. The Prancing Horse’s championship will visit the principal European circuits, running over six stages after Valencia to the Finali Mondiali at Mugello at the end of October. The highly anticipated round at the Circuit de la Sarthe in June will see the Ferrari Challenge take place alongside the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which this year celebrates its centenary.
Trofeo Pirelli. As per tradition, the Ferrari Challenge drivers will compete in four classes. Several fresh faces will line up on the grid in the Trofeo Pirelli, alongside the returns of veteran Max Mugelli (CDP – Eureka Competition) and Eliseo Donno. The young man from Salento, who competed in the 2022 season with two victories and an unlucky outing at the Finali Mondiali, will represent Radicci Automobili, now in a partnership agreement with AF Corse. As for the newcomers, expectation and interest are running high for the young Pole Szymon Ladniak (Gohm – Scuderia GT), Denis De Marco, returning to competition with the Swiss team Kessel Racing after a five-year absence, and the Briton Thomas Fleming (HR Owen), who impressed on his debut with the 488 Challenge Evo in the GT Winter Series.
In the Trofeo Pirelli Am all eyes will be on Franz Engstler (CP Racing), who, after dominating last year’s Coppa Shell, will also try to make a name for himself in the new class. The competition will be intense considering the line-up of rivals such as Nicolò Rosi (Kessel Racing), in his fourth Ferrari Challenge season, David Gostner (CDP – MP Racing) and Hanno Laskowski, at the wheel of an Emil Frey Racing team car.
Coppa Shell. The starting grid features Joakim Olander (Scuderia Autoropa), Peter Christensen (Formula Racing) and Alexander Nussbaumer (Gohm – Scuderia GT), respectively first, second and third in the Am class in the 2022 Finali Mondiali at Imola. European championship runner-up Christian Herdt-Wipper (Emil Frey) also appeared in the latter. After his debut at the Paul Ricard last year, 2021 Coppa Shell Am champion Willem Van Der Vorm (Scuderia Monte-Carlo) is again attempting the jump in class. Alongside them are the experienced Roger Grouwels (Kroymans – Race Art), Christian Kinch (Gohm – Herter Racing), Fons Scheltema (Kessel Racing), Axel Sartingen (Lueg Sportivo – Herter Racing), Manuela, Corinna and Thomas Gostner (CDP – MP Racing) and Ingvar Mattsson (Scuderia Autoropa).
Finally, Josef Schumacher (Eberlein Automobile) is the Coppa Shell Am favourite. He will face competition from seasoned gentlemen drivers and many newcomers.
Schedule. After free practice on Friday, 24 March, the Valencia circuit programme includes Race-1 qualifying for the Trofeo Pirelli on Saturday at 9 a.m., with the race starting at 2.20 p.m., and Coppa Shell qualifying at 12.30 p.m. with the green light at 3.30 p.m (all times are local). The same times apply for Sunday, 26 March. All the races will last 30 minutes. Qualifying and the races will be broadcast live and free of charge with English-language commentary on the website live.ferrari.com and on Ferrari’s YouTube channel, while the races will be shown on the Sky platform in Italy.