MIKE CANTILLON CROWNED FERRARI CHALLENGE DRIVER’S CHAMPION
In the beautiful Tuscan hills, at the Mugello Circuit not far from the fabled and historic town of Florence, Ferrari celebrated its 16th F1 Constructor’s Championship at the end-of season Finali Mondiali with a fantastic display of Ferrari race cars from several decades of the Prancing Horse’s illustrious racing heritage.
Top of the agenda for Friday was Race 1 in the exciting Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli – Coppa Shell series, which saw Mike Cantillon driving for Team Vertu Racing take the Driver’s Championship with 1 race to go. Mike had a commanding 58 point lead going into Friday’s race, and only required a points paying position to secure an unassailable lead ahead of his nearest challenger, Walter Forer. Having qualified in an excellent 7th position, with his Team Vertu Racing team-mate Jamie Constable in Car 327 alongside him in 6th, both drivers were faced with a choice of Wet or Slick tyres after a formation lap which saw a brief and light rain shower, with threatening clouds which helped the organisers decide to declare a Wet Race. Due to the uncertain and changeable conditions, every team was faced with a real dilemma regarding tyre choice – and Mike gambled on Wet tyres, while Jamie gambled on Slick tyres.
Unfortunately for Mike, even though he was quickly in the lead after only 3 laps, his Wet tyres quickly went off and he needed to pit for Slick tyres as the track dried out and the lap times clearly showed he was losing track position. However, Mike’s nearest challenger, Walter Forer had also started on Wet tyres and when he made a pit stop for slicks, Mike came in and made the same change. With Mike’s incredible points lead, he now only needed to finish the race with a couple of points to clinch the championship as it became clear that Forer was not going to win the race.
Mike joined team-mate Jamie Constable on the podium to be declared the 2008 Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli – Coppa Shell Driver’s Champion, while Jamie celebrated his remarkable third place. Remarkable because, in true style, Jamie made his customary last lap lunge from fourth place to clinch the final podium position with only a few corners to go.
Massimo Fedeli, Managing Director of Ferrari GB, said, “All the team are so happy for Mike to win the Championship. He has won 5 races this year and has shown real determination to get his car to the front of the grid at every race. He is a true gentleman and a worthy champion!”
Mike Cantillon, newly-crowned as Champion, also thanked the team for their outstanding support throughout the year: “The Ferrari Challenge Dealer Team GB has been incredible in the way they have made my dreams come true – and to win here this weekend is just the best feeling, with my family and friends here to celebrate with me. I can’t thank the team enough for all their dedication and commitment throughout the year. They have been outstanding!”
The Ferrari Challenge Dealer Team GB also has the potential to win the Team Championship, with another commanding 77 point lead going into Race 1 on Friday, which was extended even further by Jamie’s excellent last minute dash for 3rd place and means the team only requires 9 points in the final race of the season on Saturday. The Ferrari Challenge Dealer Team GB may have another reason for popping open the champagne two days in a row! And, with Mike winning the Driver’s Championship, he will be in Pole Position for the ‘Finali Mondiali’ on Sunday which sees drivers from the European, Italian and American Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli series compete for one last time on Sunday for the right to be crowned ‘World Champion’ of the three series.
Also on track this weekend at the Finali Mondiali are the Shell Historic Ferrari Challenge, the F1 Clienti and the FXX Programme, along with a special display on Sunday from the newly-crowned Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro who clinched their 16th F1 Constructor’s Championship in Brazil last weekend. For the Tifosi, the Finali Mondiali is the only place to see so many beautiful, rare and valuable Ferrari cars being driven the way they were designed to be driven – on the track.