As the cars start their engines, you can almost hear the release of emotion: the long wait for the 2020 racing season is finally over. Relief, joy, a desire to rise to the challenge – you can feel it all as this very strange season of the Ferrari Challenge gets underway.
At the start of a drastically revised calendar of events for 2020, which sees Ferrari Challenge Europe racers compete at Imola, Barcelona, Portimão, Mugello, Spa-Francorchamps, Misano and Abu Dhabi, we caught up with some of the drivers at the opening weekend at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari at Imola.
Michelle Gatting from Denmark is racing in her debut Challenge Europe season, and scored a brilliant second placing at Imola. She tells us: “It’s great finally to be here, the first time for me… the track is amazing to drive on – technical and super-fast, and the car is also super-fast… It’s definitely on top of my list of favourite tracks.
“You are much more motivated when you get back on track… You really feel how much you miss the paddock, miss driving, miss the people around, which is also a big part of being at the race track… The atmosphere is strange but really great… People are talking together and sharing their experiences.”
Laurent De Meeus from Belgium adds: “We’ve all had to readjust our objectives. I thought I wouldn’t be racing but this is such a great thing. My son brought a sim and I’ve been racing on that for the last three months, and also racing in karts with the kids. But nothing replaces the experience of being in these cars.”
Laurent is one of the first to experience the new 488 Evo racer. How does it feel? “The steering wheel feels amazing, the car feels more planted. But I haven’t yet maxed the potential that the car can offer.”
Reigning Trofeo Pirelli champion, Emanuele Maria Tabacchi, also feels emotional: “It’s a dream coming true again… I’m really happy being here and smelling the tarmac. I had so much time to train and now finally we are here.” Fittingly, he was rewarded by winning both his races at Imola.