The Ferrari-owned Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello, situated in the hills near Scarperia, played host to the record-breaking 2023 edition of the Finali Mondiali. The event effectively marks the conclusion of the season for the Prancing Horse’s Attività Sportive GT and Corse Clienti.
Record-breaking figures. Over the course of six days, a series of events on the track and in the paddock united hundreds of participants and entrants and drew an immense crowd of enthusiastic fans to Tuscany. The highlight was the highly anticipated races that determined the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli world champions and the traditional Ferrari Show.
A 105-strong field of cars from the Maranello manufacturer’s single-marque series went on the track, bringing together the various championships from around the world, as well as the Club Challenge. The XX Programme and F1 Clienti featured nearly 80 entries – double the usual number – and some 40 for Club Competizioni GT.
The Challenge of the Champions. The Tuscan weekend determined the remaining titles still up for grabs in both the European and North American series as well as the world champions. In the Trofeo Pirelli, Thomas Fleming, the season-long rival of European champion Eliseo Donno, managed to take the win after a vibrant race, which was at one point red-flagged in order to clean up the track. Coppa Shell produced a surprising final with Axel Sartingen taking the world title after Ernst Kirchmayr picked up a 5-second penalty for exceeding the track limits, having made it first across the finish line. Franz Engstler won the Trofeo Pirelli Am title and Martinus Richter that of Coppa Shell Am, rounding out the quartet of drivers all from the European Ferrari Challenge series.
Triumphant newcomers. The 2023 season of the Trofeo Pirelli goes into the archives with a win for Eliseo Donno, who fended off resistance from Thomas Fleming in the very last round at Mugello, a track on which the Italian had achieved his first Ferrari Challenge triumph a year ago when taking part for the second time. An ongoing challenge between the two very young contenders lasted throughout the entire season: the first phase saw the 18-year-old from Salento take the advantage with triumphs in Valencia, Misano and Spielberg. After a virtual ‘draw’ at Le Mans with Donno third and Fleming fourth, the British driver attempted to stage a comeback with twin wins at Estoril and victory at Spa. In the end, it was Donno who prevailed, helped in part by pole positions and fastest laps, although the season’s balance sheet saw the two young protagonists tied with five wins apiece.
Five seconds shy of an encore. Ernst Kirchmayr almost pulled off an incredible repeat performance, but the track limits denied him the pleasure. The Austrian, this year – due to concurrent GT3 programme commitments with the Baron Motorsport team – participated in the Ferrari Challenge Europe in just the home leg at Spielberg, claiming two wins, and the Finali Mondiali at Mugello, with a second double-win that propelled him to the top of the Coppa Shell class that he had won two years earlier. Kirchmayr wanted, above all, to replicate the world championship title from 2021, with the race in Scarperia looking likely to produce such an encore. But despite being first past the chequered flag, behind the Safety Car after a collision at the rear, the Austrian found his hopes dashed, dropped to sixth place after a 5-second penalty imposed for exceeding the track limits. This gave the green light to Axel Sartingen to clinch the European and world championship titles on his fourth participation, after last year’s runner-up spot.
Champion squared. Franz Engstler seized the opportunity for a second consecutive double-win – continuing his remarkable streak after securing the European and world championship titles in the Coppa Shell in 2022 – by emphatically clinching the Trofeo Pirelli Am championship this year, following in the footsteps of Ange Barde and achieving triumph in the class Finale Mondiale. The German ended the extraordinary season with 9 triumphs out of 13 races, with 4 double-wins. He came away empty-handed just twice at Le Mans and the Mugello leg, but with the title already bagged, and sights firmly set on the Finale Mondiale that saw him once again take first place.