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Season opener

06 aprile 2021

Ben Pulman

After a winter hiatus, Ferrari’s own one-make Challenge race series, historic Formula 1 cars and the exclusive and experimental XX laboratory machines have all been back in action

Ferrari drivers and their cars have been returning to race circuits across the globe in recent weeks, competing in both international and national championships. Ferrari’s own motorsport events have recently gotten underway too, with a packed calendar seeing the first 2021 events in the Ferrari Challenge, Club Competizioni GT, XX Programme and F1 Clienti all taking to the track within a matter of days of each other.

With strict health and safety protocols in place to allow Ferrari enthusiasts to enjoy time in their cars and on race circuits once again, up first was action from the United States of America. Here, the 2021 season of Ferrari Challenge North America came out in full force for the opening event at the Virginia International Raceway (VIR).

An impressive field of 40 Ferrari 488 Challenge Evos were racing at the challenging circuit, with all of the notable 2020 North American champions returning for yet another season of competition. Across the three-day event, Cooper MacNeil (Ferrari of Westlake) took victory in the two Trofeo Pirelli races of the weekend, while Todd Coleman (Ferrari of Denver) was equally dominant in the pair of Coppa Shell races.

Alongside the racing, 12 Ferrari drivers were focused on the Club Challenge program. Offering hours of track time over the course of the event, in Challenge cars past or present, the dozen drivers were able to enjoy the challenge of the Virginia International Raceway and the hospitality of a Ferrari Challenge weekend without the pressure of competition.

The 2021 season opener marked a long awaited return to the famed VIR circuit for the Challenge series, which last visited the venue in 2007. Better yet, the Ferrari Challenge competitors were joined by the GT machinery of Club Competizioni GT for a shared opening round of 2021. The Club invites owners of some of the most prestigious Ferrari racing models of the past 30 years to continue to experience their vehicles with outstanding tutelage and team support, and present at VIR were a number of models including the 458 GT3.

Just a few days later, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, the XX Programme and F1 Clienti seasons got underway in Italy. Across two days of private testing at the iconic Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, nearly 20 highly exclusive Prancing Horse vehicles were in action for the opening event.

Seventeen cars were present for the XX Programme, all of them extreme and limited edition cars developed exclusively for the track. Such is the enthusiasm of the participants that the line-up featured all of the programme’s models from its 16-year history, with three FXX Evos, seven 599XX Evos and seven FXX-K Evos – for a total of 15,000cv.

Equally impressive on the Monza track were two single-seat Formula 1 cars, the F2008 of Kimi Räikkönen and the F138 that Fernando Alonso drove in 2013. Powered by V8 engines, as the regulations required at the time, both cars were under the watchful eyes of tutors Marc Gené and Olivier Beretta, with the many laps interspersed with telemetry analysis carried out together with the two former Formula 1 drivers.

After the season-opening action, the pace of future events is almost as fast as the cars. The Ferrari Challenge Europe will kick off its season at Monza on 10-11 April, the second round of the Club Competizioni GT 2021 season will follow on 12 and 13 April at the same iconic venue, while the XX Programme and F1 Clienti will on track again at the end of the month in Austria.