Morrow & Hogarth do the double in the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo

Morrow & Hogarth do the double in the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo

The Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli UK kicked off at Snetterton for the very first round of the new season, running with the Snetterton 300 configuration. The Norwich track has been on the calendar every year since the UK series launched in 2019, and it was the home for the weekend to a strong grid comprised of familiar Ferrari faces and exciting new contenders

Saturday 29 April 

Qualifying 1 Day one saw a slightly disjointed Qualifying session, after 2 red flags from several incidents on the same corner. Several drivers collided on the Wilson hairpin (Turn 2); Graham de Zille (Meridien Modena) and Challenge UK newcomer William Tewiah (Graypaul Birmingham) for the first incident, and the second between Faisal al Faisal (HR Owen) and Robert Rees (Dick Lovett Swindon) before the session concluded with 3 minutes to spare.

In-between the stoppages, it was Andrew Morrow (Charles Hurst Belfast) who set the pace of the Prancing Horses at sunny Snetterton after claiming the first pole of the campaign, registering an insurmountable 1:53:256 before anyone could retaliate. It was a shame for Carl Cavers (Graypaul Nottingham), who’d looked well on the pace in the practice sessions, but who couldn’t set a time in Q1 due to a troublesome heat exchanger.

Paul Rogers (JCT600) got off to a bright start to lead the charge in Coppa Shell, looking comfortable as any on the asphalt with a tidy 1:55:351. Fending off repeated attempts by Marcos Vivian (Maranello Sales) for the top spot, the 0.2 second gap would be enough for the JCT600 driver to take pole position. Both Morrow and Rogers would be rewarded with the advantage going into the afternoon’s race, as well gaining an additional championship point a piece in their respective classes for doing so.

Race 1. Morrow meant business, taking maximum points with a dramatic win in the Trofeo Pirelli, whilst Paul Hogarth (Stratstone, Manchester) managed to avoid the chaos to emerge victorious in the Coppa Shell.

Trofeo Pirelli
A dry, grippy track and some wind in the sails from Q1 saw Morrow’s talent shine through, delivering the win with a dominating display. The experienced H. Sikkens (HR Owen) was raring to go and came roaring into turn 1 side by side with Morrow to make his intentions clear from the outset. Running slightly wide on the Wilson hairpin, Sikkens let Morrow run free to capitalise on a clear run, separating themselves from the rest of the field.

Meanwhile, John Dhillon (Graypaul, Nottingham) briefly lost out to Coppa Shell poleman Rogers through Oggies before re-establishing himself in third to undo the damage. Despite missing Qualifying and starting on the back row alongside Faisal Al Faisal (HR Owen), Cavers came charging from the rear to gain 9 places inside the first lap, catapulting himself up to 6th position.

Just after 20 minutes into the race, an accident brought out the red flag halting the session with 9:30 minutes left on the clock. Morrow’s excellent work was now to be put to the test with a restart under the safety car, leaving a 2-lap dash to decide the podium places. Morrow brought home his first win of the year and clinched all available bonus points thanks to Q1 pole and the fastest lap of the race. Sikkens, sturdy as ever in second, and an incredible comeback for Cavers in third made the set.

Coppa Shell
In the Coppa Shell class, 6 out of 10 drivers were new to the series. It was a fantastic first race for the new drivers to see the fruits of their labour following some sharp testing times in line with the class above. Debutant Vivian showed great promise, overtaking Rogers to lead the class. A game of cat and mouse between good friends was heating up just behind as Paul Hogarth (Stratstone Manchester) and Paul Simmerson (Graypaul Birmingham) went toe to toe for the final podium spot.

Suddenly, Coppa Shell drama ensued as Rogers lunged for the top spot, colliding with Vivian on the way through; unfortunately, Rogers ended up in the barrier as the pair tussled for track position. Both drivers walked away unscathed thanks to the integrity of the Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo design. The race was red-flagged immediately, with 9:30 minutes left on the clock and 13 cars remaining.

Hogarth, now running in first, had a task to keep next in line Simmerson at bay in second, with Marston close behind for the third step of the podium.

Snetterton Sunday 30 April 

Qualifying 2: Andrew Morrow (Charles Hurst Belfast) set pole for Race 2 with a blistering 1:51.448, smashing the lap record on the Challenge UK at this circuit. Yesterday’s Coppa Shell winner, Paul Hogarth (Stratstone Manchester) followed suit by going fastest in class with a 1:54.729, brimming with confidence and looking to return to the top podium step once again.

H. Sikkens (HR Owen) occupied the top spot of Trofeo Pirelli for the first 10 minutes, before falling short to Morrow, who on fresh rubber found instant joy. Sikkens opted for the same strategy of fresh rubber with 10 minutes left in qualifying, but still couldn’t built the young charger from Northern Ireland. Carl Cavers (Graypaul Nottingham) completed the trio to mirror the final order after Race 1.

In Coppa Shell, Paul Simmerson (Graypaul Birmingham) had his session cut short when he had to retire his car due to damage, leaving the floor to class winner, Paul Hogarth (Stratstone Manchester) who set pole with a 1:54.729. Just 2 tenths behind him was Stuart Marston (Maranello Sales Egham), competing in only his second season of racing and looking to make an impact going into Race 2 after a fantastic 3rd place in the Race 1.  Robert Rees (Dick Lovett Swindon) was quickest of the newcomers; firmly back in the driving seat looking to bounce back after his incident in Qualifying 1 yesterday. In other news, Paul Rogers (JCT600 Leeds) had to sit out of Sunday’s activities after his car took a heavy hit in the first race, whereas Marcos Vivian (Maranello Sales) was able to set a qualifying time thanks the superb work of his mechanics.

Race 2. Main man Morrow made it 2 for 2 to stamp his authority on Trofeo Pirelli, as Hogarth also did the double in the Coppa Shell in a thrilling encounter.  

Trofeo Pirelli
Morrow stormed ahead into Turn 1 at the start of the race, while Sikkens was soon by Cavers in the hairpin to take second. The fight between Sikkens and Cavers was good news for Morrow, who soon built up a 4 second gap in as many laps. Faisal al Faisal (HR Owen London) and John Dhillon (Graypaul Nottingham) jostled for the 4th spot in a battle of their own; a dog fight that would last for the rest of the race.

As in Race 1, the Safety Car was deployed after a collision further down the field, meaning Morrow saw his 6.6 sec buffer disappear to give Cavers and Sikkens another shot to pressure for the win. Restarting well with less than 10 minutes left on the clock, the leader handled the situation like a seasoned professional and quickly restored the gap which he held until the end of the race.

The battle for 4th and 5th bubbled behind as Faisal, desperate to score points after a frustrating weekend, overtook Dhillon in a high-risk, high-reward manoeuvre, which pushed both drivers to their limits. Faisal’s efforts were short lived, as Dhillon went bumper to bumper through Ritchies corner to reclaim the spot. Morrow crossed the line 7 seconds ahead of the pack to bring home the double, whilst Cavers and Sikkens swapped podium steps from the day before to finish 2nd and 3rd respectively.

Coppa Shell
Poleman Hogarth dreamed of the double going into Race 2, but it wasn’t a straightforward task, because Marston, in his brilliant blue and yellow machine, went straight on the assault, snatching the lead from the number 6’s grasp within the first few corners. With Jonathan Satchell (HR Owen London) occupying the 3rd podium spot, Simmerson made it through the field having started further back than he would have liked. New driver Rees found himself in the thick of it, going three abreast into the Bentley Straight before he spun off, overcooking the turn to let the two ahead fight it out.

Simmerson forced a move up the inside to 3rd after piling on the pressure, before a collision between first-timers Vivian and Peter Hunter (Stratstone Manchester) meant another Safety Car. Shortly after the restart, Hogarth took advantage of the slip stream in a compacted field to regain the top spot and dethrone Marston, putting himself back on track for another victory.

However, the battle was far from over, as Marston relentlessly tried to recover the position, forcing Hogarth to defend, whilst Simmerson tried to hang on for 3rd.

With Satchell refusing to give up, it came down to the final few corners before Simmerson would spin, losing his place on the podium in the last lap. Hogarth breathed a sigh of a relief as he welcomed the chequered flag to secure his 2nd victory of the weekend. Marston took his 2nd podium of the weekend, whilst Satchell took his 1st podium of the season with a well-earned 3rd place in the final moments.

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