The Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli Europe has its champions. After an intense year and after five out of the six scheduled rounds, the four classes of the Prancing Horse single-marque European series proclaimed their season winners at the Mugello circuit. The weekend in Tuscany was marked by triumphs, parties, thrills, reappearances and memories, with sights firmly set on the Finali Mondiali.
Girls on top. The top flight of the Ferrari Challenge had a distinctly pink hue. After Michelle Gatting's success in 2021, also fruit of the Finali Mondiali weekend at Mugello, the Trofeo Pirelli this year saw - for the second time in its thirty-year existence - the triumph of another female representative, Doriane Pin, a young Frenchwoman born near Paris shortly before moving to Nice, who secured enough decisive points at the weekend to be able to celebrate the series title one round early. A win that came under the excited gaze of Michelle Gatting, as well as her other Iron Dames team-mates, Sarah Bovy and Rahel Frey. While Gatting and Pin both lifted the trophy at the Scarperia circuit, the Frenchwoman mathematically sealed the title one round ahead of her squad-mate. And with a winning streak of no less than eight victories - so far - compared to the Danish driver's three last year; ten pole positions compared to five and seven fastest laps compared to four: the Frenchwoman is showing an even greater degree of domination than her companion in what bodes well for her promising career.
Back to the future. Besides Gatting, the Italian round was marked by another welcome return, this time to the track. The participation of Emanuele Maria Tabacchi conjured up many thrilling memories, having previously won in 2019 and 2020 and becoming champion at the Finali Mondiali in the first of the two years cited. Greetings and embraces from the whole Corse Clienti entourage and convincing performances that give hope for a more regular return. Tabacchi made no secret of his enthusiasm to return to racing, not least because little satisfaction he says he felt in using the simulator during the time he spent away from the curbs. “The track is a unique thrill.” After setting the fourth fastest time in the opening qualifying session, the Rossocorsa driver was the protagonist of the early stages of Race 1, only to subsequently drop back to mid-pack. On Sunday, however, a noteworthy sixth place after the fourth best qualifying time.
Eternal Barde. Ange Barde's domination in the Trofeo Pirelli Am took him to the 2022 title thanks to ten victories, seven pole positions and nine fastest laps, breaking any resistance offered by Marco Pulcini (unfortunately involved in a Race 1 crash at Mugello - luckily without consequences - ruling out any chances of contention) and Nicolò Rosi (retired from Race 2), who will face off at Imola for the remaining podium places.For the Frenchman from SF Côte d'Azur Cannes - IB Fast this is the fifth European title in the Ferrari Challenge after those clinched in 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2006, as well as runner-up spots in 2002, 2005, 2007 and, after a lengthy gap, third place on his return in 2021. "It is extraordinary to experience this environment," he states, "and I really want to thank all those who organise this championship so impeccably and those who are alongside me and my partners. Barde remained focused after Saturday's celebrations, taking home a tenth win of the season in Race 2, but more importantly launching his challenge for the Finali Mondiali at Imola. “It is a circuit I love, very technical and with a great, alluring history, starting with its naming after Enzo and Dino Ferrari,” said Barde. “I also appreciate the Mugello circuit and, apart from my affection for Paul Ricard, which I consider my home track, I think this track in Tuscany is one of the best in the world.”
Newcomers. The air at home seems beneficial to Italian drivers who were some of the great protagonists at Mugello. Not only the return of Tabacchi, but the Tuscan circuit also witnessed the maiden outing in the championship for young Nicola Marinangeli of the CDP team. The nineteen-year-old from Foligno showed no fear in the battle for the top positions throughout several stretches of the race, eventually finishing with double seventh places in the Trofeo Pirelli. Meanwhile it was a first win, after the podium at Hockenheim, for Eliseo Donno (CDP - Best Lap) who conquered Race-1 with the best lap time of 1'51"337, leaving behind Thomas Neubauer (Charles Pozzi Courage) and Doriane Pin, who would win the title the following day. The second race proved unluckier for Donno who, after third place in qualifying, went off track in an accident that put paid to any hopes of fighting for victory. In the Coppa Shell Am, first podium of the season for an excellent Paolo Scudieri (Sa.Mo.Car), third in Race-1 just 4 seconds behind the winner and new class champion Alexander Nussbaumer (Gohm Motorsport - Herter Racing). Tuscany finally recorded the first point of the season for the ever-present Pino Frascaro (Kessel Racing) who took his Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo to eighth place in Coppa Shell Am Race-2
All eyes on Imola. Thoughts in the Mugello paddock gravitate towards the imminent Finali Mondiali. There are those who are stalwarts at the Emilian circuit like Ange Barde and those who, by contrast, have only ever tackled it on the simulator, such as Luka Nurmi of Formula Racing (“It is one of my favourites and it is legendary,” he tells us), but they all recognise its great charm and the fact that its name pays tribute to Enzo and Dino Ferrari, and everyone has the same goal: “At the Finali Mondiali there is a single objective, to win and I will try to repeat last year’s triumph,” continues Nurmi. “It is the circuit of my first race in the Ferrari Challenge and I want to be in the battle for the podium at the Finali Mondiali,” says Roman Ziemian (FML - D2P).