Thrills, spills and suspense as Florian Merckx (Baron Motorsport) and Han Sikkens (HR Owen) were garlanded with the 2020 Trofeo Pirelli World Championship titles in their respective classes at the end of the Finali Mondiali held today in Misano. The excitement continued even after the race had ended. The only things missing at the closed-door track were the spectators. 30 action-packed minutes of competition were not enough to decide the eventual winner of the top flight series: following post-race scrutineering, French driver Thomas Neubauer (Charles Pozzi - Courage), who had been first past the chequered flag, was disqualified after race stewards found technical irregularities with the car.
The opening corners immediately unleashed a battle among the leaders, with Neubauer managing to keep control of the pack, chased by Merckx, Fabienne Wohlwend (Octane 126), Cooper MacNeil (Ferrari Westlake) and Emanuele Maria Tabacchi (Rossocorsa) in that order. Elsewhere in AM class, pole-sitter Frederik Paulsen (Formula Racing) made a complicated start, coming under pressure from his immediate class rivals. The mid-group brawl gave rise to a series of collisions prompting the entry of the Safety Car which stayed on-track for several minutes. Coming off worst, and forced to retire, were AM class leader Paulsen and Matús Vyboh (Scuderia Praha); likewise, Christian Brunsborg (Formula Racing) was sanctioned with a drive-through which effectively put paid to his chances of victory. Han Sikkens emerged from the heated battle in first position, ahead of the Brazilian Claude Senhoreti (Ferrari of Ft. Lauderdale).
The first six cars competing in Trofeo Pirelli remained tightly-bunched with Neubauer trying to increase the pace, but his opponents behind were not letting up: Merckx set the fastest lap time, while MacNeil and Wohlwend jostled for the third step of the podium. Thomas Neubauer made it first over the final finish-line, but at the end of the race the decision by race stewards upended the final table, handing the 2020 World Championship title to Florian Merckx, while the podium was rounded out by Fabienne Wohlwend, who took second and the American driver Cooper MacNeil third. Fourth place went to John Wartique (Francorchamps Motors Luxembourg) ahead of Emanuele Maria Tabacchi, lumbered with a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits. Neubauer has, however, appealed against the steward’s decision, therefore the rankings should be considered sub judice pending the outcome of the appeal.
There was an equally heated battle in AM class, with a long string of overtaking and counter-manoeuvres - some 36 by the end - which eventually rewarded the determination of Han Sikkens, who was able to claim the world championship title in his class. Behind, an excellent Tommaso Rocca (Rossocorsa), who improved on the third place achieved in the 2019 Finali Mondiali. John Dhillon (Graypaul Nottingham) occupied the lowest step of the podium, while another Italian, Alessandro Cozzi (Formula Racing) took fourth place, fending off threats from Christian Brunsborg, who produced the fastest lap. Sixth place went to Brazilian Senhoreti, who, like Tabacchi, received a five-second penalty for exceeding track limits, ahead of Swiss driver Nicolò Rosi (Kessel Racing) and Marco Pulcini (Rossocorsa - Pellini Racing).