From Portugal to France, the imaginary line connecting the circuits on the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli Europe 30th edition calendar leads to the Central European region, crossed by the Danube, just outside Budapest, to the Hungaroring, the historic circuit that opened its gates to the drivers of the Ferrari single-marque series for three days of speed.
Three qualifying sessions. The novelty for the Hungarian leg, format-wise, was undoubtedly the double qualifying session in the Coppa Shell. As laid out in the regulations, race organisers experimented with a double session aimed at reducing traffic in the most crowded class. A first qualifying session was dedicated exclusively to the Coppa Shell drivers, while the Coppa Shell Am contenders entered the track later.
The two groups of drivers then contested the same race, but lined-up from separate sections of the starting grid, irrespective of the timekeeping, with the initial part of the grid reserved for Coppa Shell entrants and a second block made up of purely Coppa Shell Am drivers. This solution was chosen on a trial basis, and it is yet to be decided whether it will be repeated in the next round.
Concentration techniques. Every athlete has their own method and rituals. Taking to the track, at top speed, requires a high degree of concentration. Peering behind the pits, you can see the different ways that drivers either psyche themselves up or calm themselves down before the helmet visor is shut. Some choose to stay in the Ferrari hospitality area with friends and family, while others have set up a little gym with various pieces of equipment to exercise and relieve tension.
Others choose different kinds of activities, such as Martinus Richter, who alternates between skipping and the Reflex Ball, just like Alex Sartingen: this involves using a tennis ball tied by string to a headband which is hit repeatedly as if it were a punch ball. It is considered an excellent exercise to improve reflexes.
Live tips. An increasingly important role in these championships is played by the coach, i.e. an experienced driver who makes their skills and experience available to give advice and information. Various competitors have chosen to take advantage of this service. Baron Motorsport have gone one step further: they have developed an app that allows you to watch all their drivers live on the track, by means of an internally mounted camera. This way, the coach is able to help out the driver live over the radio, by suggesting how to approach a curve, where to set the braking point and which trajectory to follow.
I love Budapest. The last time the Ferrari Challenge stopped off in Budapest was back in 2017, for the third round of the season. On that occasion a Ferrari 458 Challenge was raced. The Trofeo Pirelli produced just one winner, Daniele Di Amato, claiming a double-win, while in the Coppa Shell the honours in Race-1 went to Eric Cheung, and Johnny Laursen in Race-2. Some were present both in 2017 and in the last round of the weekend: Thomas and Manuela Gostner, Tommy Lindroth and Fons Scheltema.
Five rings and more. In conjunction with the Ferrari Challenge leg, Budapest is also hosting the World Swimming Championships, which officially got underway with the first pool races on Saturday 17 June. With a background on ice, rather than the swimming pool, is Liu Sahoang, the Hungarian national team’s short track skater who was also in attendance for Sunday’s races. Sahoang is quite a star in his country for the many medals he has won throughout his career. He has worn two Olympic gold medals around his neck (in the 5000-metre relay in 2018 and in the 500-metre relay in 2022) as well as two bronze medals (both in the most recent edition of the Games, in the 2000-metre mixed relay and in the 1000 metres), plus many international titles, including world and European titles.
Accompanying him was Zsolt Gyulay, managing director of the Hungaroring circuit as well as president of the Hungarian Olympic Committee: "It is a great honour for me to take part in this beautiful day," said Guylay, “I had a great time watching these races. I must admit that I love speed and Italian supercars, especially Ferraris.”