Sikkens & Hogarth win Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Race 1 @ Brands Hatch

Sikkens & Hogarth win Ferrari Challenge Trofeo  Race 1 @ Brands Hatch

As De Zille & Simmerson take first wins of season in Race 2


The third round of Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli UK was poised to be a scorching affair from the start, with track temperatures recorded at 48 degrees thanks to the sunny skies above Kent. Tasked with two track configurations to master over the weekend, extra levels of focus were required in Race 1 as the drivers battled with the shorter Indy configuration lasting just over a mile, whilst Race 2 changes to the more technical and much longer GP layout on Sunday for a totally different style of race. Ferrari also welcomed a special guest for the weekend, driver steward, James Calado, the 2023 Le Mans 24 Hour winner.


Qualifying 1 Poleman H Sikkens (HR Owen, London) set his sights on a second victory in Trofeo Pirelli this season, as he looked to make up some ground on Andrew Morrow (Charles Hurst, Belfast) in the standings. Sikkens laid some serious rubber down to reach the top step with a 47:434, with just 0.4 seconds separating the top five.


In Coppa Shell, the seemingly unstoppable Paul Hogarth (Stratstone Manchester) managed to take the pole advantage with a 48.029 in the final five minutes, to the delight of his nervous garage.


Race 1 Trofeo Pirelli Family, friends and Ferrari fans alike welcomed the green light as the Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo cars hurtled into the first bend side by side. Sikkens held his nerve, managing to retain the lead from the invaluable pole position earned early on, despite some close pushing from a compact and determined grid. Faisal al Faisal (HR Owen, London) squeezed past Cavers into second, whilst Morrow dropped a place into fifth, though only temporarily. John Dhillon (Graypaul, Nottingham) soon found joy twice over as he climbed two places in as many laps, thanks to Faisal’s brief track departure. Cavers and Dhillon sailed through Faisal’s dust cloud, as a newly inspired Morrow took advantage through Druid’s with an inspired move up the inside of him too.


Sikkens fought tooth and nail to maintain track position in the clean air up ahead whilst it was déjà vu for a committed Cavers behind, who couldn’t catch the faultless Dutchman to mirror the story at Oulton Park. 


Cavers set the fastest lap of the race in his pursuit to deny Sikkens the full sweep of bonus points, but the top two remained unchanged for the rest of the encounter. Morrow soon regained another place to leapfrog Dhillon for third, where he would stay to complete the final three on the podium.


The main action ensued just outside of the places in the battle for fourth as Faisal’s frustration brought out some incredible racing, as he harassed Dhillon lap after lap. His perseverance finally paid off in spectacular style as he came sideways out of Druids, leaving black tyre marks in his wake to take the fourth spot. Now equally inspired to replicate the recovery as Faisal had done, Dhillon’s determination landed him in trouble as he received a five second penalty for exceeding track limits. There was incredibly close racing throughout the field which required maximum focus and great determination, which made the trophy presentation by 2023 Le Mans 24 Hour winner, James Calado, a fitting final touch.


Coppa Shell Another classic battle of the Pauls broke loose from the off, as Paul Rogers (JCT600, Leeds) stayed tight in second from Hogarth in front, with Paul Simmerson (Graypaul Birmingham) completing the trio in third. Having won here last September, Rogers was looking to repeat history and reclaim some points from the Coppa Shell leader, but heavy traffic throughout the race made for a difficult task.


With the original top three from the starting unchanged for some time, traffic from backmarkers produced some extremely tight racing with four drivers within less than a second of each other. Hogarth managed to use the traffic to his advantage to keep his lead at the top, leaving Rogers and Simmerson to battle it out between themselves for second. Eventually, Simmerson made the move on Rogers to take second, which he would ultimately keep thereafter, whilst Ferrari Challenge history was nearly made with an all-Paul podium.


However, it wasn’t meant to be this time following a sudden bunch-up of cars that reshuffled the order, sending Rogers down the places to his disappointment. An unsuspecting play from newcomer Chris Smith (Graypaul, Birmingham), who had been patiently waiting in fourth for some time, finally went through to claim the first podium of his career as a worthy reward for a calm and collected display. Another special mention should be made for Stuart Marston (Maranello Sales, Egham), who at one point was second-last managed to climb back to fourth place in a hard-fought competition from start to finish. Hogarth made it five from five to continue his win-streak, claiming the full sweep of points with fastest lap and pole.


Brands Hatch Sunday 25 June
Race 2 of the Round 3 of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli UK took place on the historic and challenging GP circuit at Brands Hatch.


Qualifying 2 Late drama surprised the crowd at Brands as Graham de Zille (Meridien, Modena) went half a second clear from the pack on his favourite track, posting a sensational time of 1:29:454 to secure the critical front spot for Race 2 on the GP circuit.


Paul Hogarth (Stratstone, Manchester) delivered a last ditch 1:30:795 to set pole in Coppa Shell once again, this time, with just two minutes of the session to spare. With more miles, corners and variables to navigate, the will and wisdom of the series’ two most experienced drivers was undeniable as they lead the Race 2 grid in each class.


Race 2 Trofeo Pirelli 18 drivers stormed into the first bend with equal tenacity, with de Zille desperately defending for track position through the first exchange as Carl Cavers (Graypaul, Nottingham) attempted to go the long way around. As they roared around through the trees and made their way back to Clearways, Race 1 winner H. Sikkens (HR Owen, London) went off into the gravel to send him tumbling down the field, all but guaranteeing a new winner up ahead.


Series leader, Andrew Morrow (Charles Hurst, Belfast) set off in pursuit of Faisal al Faisal (HR Owen, London) who was twitching sideways up ahead to valiantly defend third, before falling prey to a box office pass up the inside with just millimetres between the pair. Faisal narrowly missed Morrow when retaking the spot, before Morrow returned fire yet again a corner later to take third position once again. Meanwhile, de Zille had built up a comfortable lead of 2.5 seconds at the front, which disintegrated after a Coppa Shell car spun to produce a Safety Car. With 12 minutes to go, racing resumed over the start line as Morrow hurtled into Turn 1, attempting to go round the outside of Cavers up ahead without success.


Faisal tried to replicate the move he’d seen Morrow attempt on Cavers, which inspired him to take an audacious line around Druids himself, but the Northern Irishman held his nerve to maintain the position with some clever manoeuvring as the two went wheel to wheel out of the apex.


Sikkens received a drive-through penalty for causing a collision with Robert Rees (Dick Lovett, Swindon), which brought out another Safety Car to compact the field once again. Morrow took advantage of a tow all the way down the hill, forcing Cavers to forfeit second place. Now clear, Morrow went on to set the fastest lap of the race in the penultimate lap, though it wouldn’t be enough to derail the experienced de Zille, who claimed his first win of the campaign at the track he holds most dear. Faisal’s final lap charge to steal Cavers’ podium place saw him spin off, as the rest went on to take the chequered flag, in what was surely the best race of the season so far.


Coppa Shell Paul Simmerson (Graypaul, Birmingham) made an audacious start as he flew out of the blocks to move from fourth to first in the opening lap. Having finished on the second step in five races this season, Simmerson’s resolve would be severely tested as a threefold frenzy quickly ensued. With Paul Rogers (JCT600, Leeds) still in third, the trio of Pauls drove nose to tail for several laps as Hogarth relentlessly applied the pressure to his friendly rival seeking a victory. Whilst the top three battled it out, Stuart Marston (Maranello Sales, Egham) had been quietly creeping up the table having already bettered his starting position of seventh to sixth on the opening lap and leapfrogging a further two places to catch the trio fighting for podium positions.
 

As three became four with the Maranello man gaining ground, Hogarth, in second, began to consider a move of his own. He took multiple looks up the inside of Simmerson in an attempt to distract him, before William Tewiah (Graypaul, Birmingham) spun into the gravel at Paddock Hill and brought out a Safety Car. At the exact point of the spin, Marston made a move on Rogers before he could see the Safety Car had been deployed, meaning that he was permitted to retain the third place.


The restart only lasted two minutes before a second Safety Car was deployed with 10 minutes to go, this time due to an unfortunate spin from Robert Rees (Dick Lovett, Swindon). Simmerson, who had defended for his life all race long, was now going to be tasked with yet another restart as Hogarth gave it one last shot to remain unbeaten.


While battling for first, Hogarth hadn’t noticed a now sideways Marston, screeching towards the rear of his vehicle, as six cars jostled for position into the penultimate bend. Marston got the better of Hogarth on the apex with a fantastic amount of bravery, claiming another second place this season after a fantastic weekend. Champagne never tasted so sweet for Simmerson, who was met with overjoyed crowds on his pitlane return for what was a thoroughly deserved win. 


Standings

Trofeo Pirelli Morrow continues to lead the championship with 88 points after a good performance this weekend. Sikkens is now just one point from Cavers in second and third, with 72 and 71 points respectively.


Coppa Shell Hogarth storms the table on 95 points after another superb weekend, Simmerson stays in second with 73, whilst Marston creeps into third on 49.


Round 4 The fourth round of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli takes place at the Silverstone Grand Prix circuit from September 1-3, as part of the Ferrari Racing Days weekend which also includes the F1 Clienti and XX Programmes.


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