Round four of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli Europe, held on the 13.626-kilometre Circuit de La Sarthe, featured wins for Thomas Neubauer (Charles Pozzi – GT Racing) in the Trofeo Pirelli and Manuela Gostner (CDP – MP Racing) in the Coppa Shell. They were honoured, alongside the other podium finishers, by Ferrari Executive Chairman John Elkann, Chief Executive Officer Benedetto Vigna and Enrico Galliera, Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer, just a few hours before the start of the extraordinary and iconic Centenary 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Over the French weekend, the only Prancing Horse one-make series race involved an exceptional sixty-nine Ferrari 488 Challenge Evos and featured representatives from all the Ferrari Challenge championships and twenty-one countries worldwide. The race also saw victories for American Matt Kurzejewski (Ferrari Beverly Hills) in the Trofeo Pirelli Am and Martinus Richter (MERTEL Motorsport) in the Coppa Shell Am.
Trofeo Pirelli. After taking pole position in qualifying, Thomas Neubauer, the series’ reigning world champion, also won on his home circuit in a race featuring a Safety Car phase to clear the track following a collision between two Trofeo Pirelli Am cars. The young Frenchman recorded the race’s only sub-four-minute lap time of 3’59”985. Next came Bence Valint (Rossocorsa – Ferrari Budapest), who overtook Thomas Fleming (HR Owen – FF Corse) and Eliseo Donno (Radicci Automobili) at the start, holding off the Salento driver’s comeback attempt in an exciting last lap.
In the Trofeo Pirelli Am, after a collision between Carl Cavers (Graypaul Nottingham) and Custodio Toledo (The Collection), from which the drivers, however, emerged unscathed, the North American series’ representative, Matt Kurzejewski successfully defended his pole position to finish first, also with the best lap time of 4’01”005. With him on the podium were David Gostner (CDP – MP Racing) and Nobuhiro Imada (Rosso Scuderia), who appears in the Ferrari one-make series’ new Japanese edition.
Coppa Shell. Manuela Gostner also claimed both pole position and victory, skilfully fending off attempts to overtake by the provisional leader of the overall standings Axel Sartingen (Lueg Sportivo – Herter Racing), who in turn successfully held off Christian Herdt-Wipper (Emil Frey Sportivo), who finished third. The additional point for the best time went to the experienced Eric Cheung (Formula Racing), twelfth across the line, with 4’28”441.
Martinus Richter secured his third Coppa Shell Am win of the season, courtesy of an excellent start in which he overtook poleman Motohiko Isozaki (Cornes Motors Shiba). He then led all 35 minutes of the race. Second place went to Henrik Kamstrup (Formula Racing), while Britain’s Paul Hogarth (Stratstone Manchester) took third, completing the podium picture in the one-make series at Le Mans in the Loire Valley. Another Briton, Jonathan Satchell (HR Owen), posted the fastest lap time of 4’24”116.
Parade. On Friday, the Ferrari Challenge drivers accompanied the 24 Hours of Le Mans participants in the parade that traditionally precedes the most important Endurance race, which celebrates its centenary this weekend. The Prancing Horse one-make competitors drove through the festive crowds lining the route in the city centre, experiencing the excitement of an absolutely unique and extraordinary event amidst the applause and cheers of the public.
Next round. The Ferrari Challenge Europe will be back next month, from 14 to 16 July, at the Estoril circuit for round five of the 2023 season.