The Hockenheim circuit in Germany hosted round four of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli Europe, which passed the halfway mark of its thirtieth season. Doriane Pin and Franz Engstler’s double-win and a tight battle in all classes herald a fiercer finish to this scorching summer.
Debuts and returns. There was great excitement in the Prancing Horse one-make series circus, with several new participants and significant returns at Hockenheim. In the Trofeo Pirelli, Adrian Sutil (Gohm Motorsport) was back on track at his home circuit. The former Formula 1 driver suffered an unlucky weekend, with a collision and penalty for overshooting the track that delayed him in Race-1 and a tricky qualifying session that saw him start from the back of the pack in Race-2, where he used all his class and experience to make up nine positions.
Thomas Neubauer (Charles Pozzi - Courage) was another significant return to the Ferrari Challenge, not seen in the series since the 2020 Finali Mondiali. He took fifth place in Race-2 after retiring in the first race following a collision.
However, Alessandro Giovanelli (Rossocorsa), experienced in GT4, made his Coppa Shell debut. He has already emerged as a significant contender in the class with two races and two second places.
Prophets (or not) at home. While the Marseillaise blasted out over the podium four times in the Trofeo Pirelli to celebrate the two double-wins of Doriane Pin (Scuderia Niki – Iron Lynx) and Ange Barde (SF Côte d’Azur Cannes – IB Fast) in the Am, Germany triumphed in the Coppa Shell. On their home circuit, Franz Engstler (Scuderia GT) and Christian Herdt-Wipper (Saggio München) produced excellent performances in the Am, winning both on Saturday and Sunday.
The other German drivers had a more unfortunate weekend on home turf. Besides Sutil’s misfortunes, Axel Sartingen (Lueg Sportivo – Herter Racing) yielded second place in Race-1 to newcomer Alessandro Giovanelli, while Matthias Moser (Baron Motorport), who lives just a few miles from the Hockenheimring, finished the first race in fourth. Both had to retire early in Race-2, with Moser nevertheless taking pole.
Friendly rivals. Arno Dahlmeyer (Scuderia Niki – Iron Lynx) and Nicolò Rosi (Kessel Racing) compete in the Trofeo Pirelli Am, but the similarities don’t stop there. Exuberant and carefree, the two drivers enjoy their track rivalry, even joking in the paddock before the races and during the convivial occasions that the Ferrari Challenge provides. At the Hockenheim weekend, the German and Swiss drivers also swapped podium positions, with third and second place for the Kessel Racing driver and second and third for Rosi. The latter arrived in Germany nursing a minor leg injury he skilfully overcame once he was in his Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo.
A thousand in the paddock The Ferrari Racing Days paddock also featured plenty of excitement, combining the Ferrari Challenge Europe with Club Competizioni GT activities. Visitors could admire the racing cars and meet Ferrari drivers, such as Nicklas Nielsen (winner of Challenge Europe and the Finali Mondiali in 2018). The Dane is twice winner of the GT Am class in the WEC championship and of the same class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2021. He was also in Germany as Race Advisor for the Prancing Horse championship round. Then there was Toni Vilander, an official driver with two 24 Hours of Le Mans victories and the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge title. He was the special tutor for the weekend, which featured many other activities involving guests and fans. Over 1,000 people entered the paddock over the three days, in addition to those in the grandstands. Some enthusiastic local Ferrari clubs were also present.
Sustainability. The Prancing Horse championship’s environmental sustainability certification was prominently displayed in the Corse Clienti Hospitality area, which follows the Ferrari Challenge Europe, entertaining drivers, fans and insiders for three days. Indeed, the Ferrari Challenge Europe is the first one-make series for combustion-engined cars with ISO 20121-certified sustainability, recognised by TÜV NORD Italia, which certifies the international standard for sustainable event management. This certificate is another significant recognition for the Prancing Horse one-make series in its thirtieth anniversary year.