The 2020 Ferrari Challenge Asia-Pacific race series commences once again, this time kicking off from the iconic Bahrain International Circuit from 5th-7th March 2020. The Ferrari Challenge is open to Ferrari drivers from all over the world, who are divided into three classes; the Trofeo Pirelli AM, Coppa Shell and the Coppa Shell AM, split according to their experience and driving level. This year, participants seen in action will race in the latest 488 Challenge EVO, which made its debut during the Ferrari Finali Mondiali in October 2019 at the Mugello Circuit. Three years after the presentation of the 488 Challenge, the Prancing Horse has developed a kit that increases the car’s overall performance and its consistency in race conditions, and also improves the handling for even better feedback and driving pleasure. The 488 Challenge EVO is the eighth car used in the one-make series after the 348 TB/TS used between (1993-1996); the F355 Challenge (1995-2001); the 360 Challenge (2000-2006); the F430 Challenge (2006-2011); the 458 Challenge (2011-2013); the 458 Challenge EVO (2014-2017) and the 488 Challenge (2018 – 2019). The field of drivers harnessed the power of their 488 Challenge EVO cars on the F1 track to full effect in a breathtaking display of Ferrari’s sporting heritage. Yudai Uchida (Rosso Scuderia), Kazuyuki Yamaguchi (Cornes Osaka) and Baby Kei (Cornes Osaka) dominated their respective classes on the first day of Round 1 of the 2020 Ferrari Challenge APAC series in the beautiful setting of Bahrain International Circuit. On the second day, Ernst Kirchmayr (Baron Racing) took the Trofeo Pirelli AM classification despite the fierce battle within the field, while Yamaguchi and Kei repeated their wins from Race 1 in their respective classifications.
Trofeo Pirelli AM. The battle for victory in Race 1 was an all-Japanese affair. Pole-sitter Uchida streaked across the finish line in first place following an assured performance, with Go Max (M Auto Hiroshima) holding a safe second place until the checkered flag The duel for third animated the whole race, with a fierce battle between Nobuhiro Imada (Rosso Scuderia), Kirchmayr and Yosuke Yamazaki (BUZZ), the trio switching places lap after lap. Kirchmayr managed to overtake Yamazaki and Imada with three laps to go, but his chances for a podium were ended by a spin at Turn 12. Imada made the most of it, crossing the line ahead of Yamazaki to take the last step on the podium. In Race 2, Uchida, victor of day one, entered the race keen to maintain his winning streak. However, the eventual champion was Kirchmayr, who seized the opportunity to go ahead when a contact between Uchida and Max put the leader out of contention, Max never recovering from the consequent drive-through penalty. Imada and Yamazaki took the second and third positions respectively. Uchida tops the standings table with 25 points, followed closely by Imada with 23 points and Kirchmayr with 22 points. With these leaders being very close in the championship standings, the duel will probably last for the entire season.
Coppa Shell. In the Coppa Shell class there was an early leader: Jay Park (Forza Motor Korea), after a fantastic lap in qualifying, kept the lead at the start and seemed ready for his first win of the season. However, Yamaguchi kept up his relentless pursuit of Park throughout the race at an amazing pace. Then with 2 laps to go, Yamaguchi finally succeeded in overtaking Park to take first position. Park had to settle for second while Yanbin Xing (CTF Beijing) took the last step on the podium. Race 2 definitely saw Yamaguchi being crowned “driver of the weekend” as he doubled Friday’s win to leave Bahrain with a strong leadership in the championship. Besides winning in his class, his blistering performance also saw him coming in second overall in Race 2 with just 0.441 seconds off race winner Kirchmayr and beating other more experienced drivers in the Pirelli AM class. Yamaguchi is proving one to watch closely in subsequent races. Xing came in second while Park was third in Race 2. With both wins, Yamaguchi is first in the standings with 33 points, followed by Park with 25 points and Xing in third with 23 points.
Coppa Shell AM. Race 1 was quite a show right from the start in Coppa Shell AM. Kei who had a disappointing qualifying time that had him start at the back of his class, drove a blistering race that saw him come from the back to win the race, much to the delight of his supporters. Liangbo Yao and Yansheng Liang (both from CTF Beijing) took the second and third positions respectively. Kei’s success in qualifying first in his class for Race 2 must be attributed to his increased knowledge and experience of the track from Race 1. The final results in Race 2 were similar to Race 1. As a result, Kei tops the standings in his class with 32 points, followed by Yao with 28 points and Liang with 21 points.
Schedule. The next round of the Ferrari Challenge APAC series will be at Fuji, in Japan, from 24 – 26 April.