16 ottobre 2016
Oyama, 16 October 2016 - The second race of the Round 6 of the Ferrari Challenge APAC saw the crowning of the first 2016 champion. Liang Wang sealed the Coppa Shell in a race won by teammate Jie Xu. In the Trofeo Pirelli Florian Merckx notched up his fourth consecutive victory while local hero Hiroyuki Kishimoto took the spoils in the Pirelli Am.
Trofeo Pirelli. In the early stages championship leader Florian Merckx held off the attacks of Alex West, a quick start from Steve Wyatt, and Renaldi Hutasoit, while behind a damaging contact between George Chou and Toru Tanaka put both out of contention. At the end of the first lap Wyatt overtook West who soon pulled out with gearbox problems. Debris on the track forced the race officials to bring on the Safety Car and at the restart Merckx found himself under extreme pressure from Hutasoit. However, the Belgian fought tooth and nail to record a fourth straight win and probable title, which he should wrap up at the Finali Mondiali in Daytona from 1 to 4 December. “It has been fantastic to race in the APAC series this year – he said - and was great to collect four wins in a row. Thanks to all the people helped me a lot, starting from Philipp Baron and the Baron Service guys.”
Pirelli Am. There were thrills and spills in the Pirelli Am class where championship leader Xin Jin made a rare mistake. The Chinese driver attacked James Weiland, clashing with the American and damaging his 458 Challenge EVO. Jin was forced to retire, which gave Eric Cheung and Hulin Han a chance to fight for and secure second and fourth places. However, the battle for victory was an all-Japanese affair between Max Go and rookie Hiroyuki Kishimoto, in his second one-make series race. Kishimoto led Race-1 before Han rammed into him, while in Race-2 he did very well avoiding contact with Go. Kishimoto won to the delight of his compatriots who were treated to a rendition of the Japanese national anthem, ahead of Cheung, Go and Han, with the now re-opened championship that will be decided at Daytona. Kishimoto said: “It was the first time in APAC Challenge and I really enjoyed. I hope I have the chance to repeat this great experience”.
Coppa Shell. The Coppa Shell race was just as spectacular. At the start championship leader Liang Wang was in first ahead of Ken Seto, Paul Montague and China's Xiao. However, it was soon apparent that this was not how the race would end. On his Ferrari Challenge APAC debut, Jia Xu began a great comeback after starting from the back of the grid due to the incident in Race-1. The Chinese driver steered clear of a number of accidents, including one between Japan's Takeshi Kitai and Hideaki Watanabe, dropping into the leading group in the final laps. First he overtook Paul Montague, whose fourth place was enough to win the Gentlemen's Cup, and then even managed to stick the nose of his 458 Challenge EVO ahead of local hero Ken Seto. At that point, Liang Wang, who was anyway certain of winning the title, left victory to his teammate. Xu at the post-race press conference said: “It was my first weekend in the Challenge and I really enjoyed. I’m used to race other brands’ cars but Ferrari has always been my favorite. It was simply amazing”.
Now the Finali Mondiali. The Ferrari Challenge APAC will be back on track in December for the final round of the season. It will take place at Daytona, when, after the winners of the class Trofeo Pirelli and Pirelli Am will be decided, the drivers of this series will also compete with the Europeans and Americans for the world champion titles.