Round 4 of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli UK brought the series back to Silverstone, one of the most recognisable tracks in world motorsport and one that’s on every driver’s bucket list. The iconic Grand Prix circuit spans 3.66 miles and is one of the fastest tracks in the world, offering high-octane action at every corner. Aside from the main event, Ferrari Racing Days provided lots more exciting track activities for the fans to enjoy, including original Scuderia Ferrari Formula 1 cars and XX Programme sessions too. Ferrari also welcomed Le Mans 24 Hour winner, James Calado, back to his familiar role of Driver Steward for the weekend.
Andrew Morrow (Charles Hurst, Belfast) leads Trofeo Pirelli, with a single point separating H.Sikkens (HR Owen, London) in second and Carl Cavers (Graypaul, Nottingham) in third. Cavers had high hopes of repeating his double-winning weekend here last season after moving up a class this year. In Coppa Shell, Paul Hogarth (Stratstone, Manchester) was looking to take revenge after friendly rival, Paul Simmerson (Graypaul, Birmingham) finally broke his winning streak last time out at Brands Hatch, as thrilling battles continued to develop all the way through the grid.
Silverstone Saturday 2 September 2023
Despite flat light and cloudy skies, the atmosphere in the paddock was anything but dull as 18 turns awaited the 17 driver grid, equal in their desire to return to racing. Quickest off the mark was Cavers, who set a 2:04:244 to lead the pack into Race 1 having been fastest in all sessions throughout the weekend. The drivers of Coppa Shell were pushing right to the limit as two cars spun in the session, but it was the fully-focused Hogarth who earned a familiar place on the front row after posting a 2:05:920.
At the green light, polesitter Cavers hurtled down the Hamilton Straight into Abbey, with a pack of Ferrari 488 Challenge Evos filling each mirror. His efforts in Q1 were shortly dismantled as Morrow capitalised on a good run into Abbey to take the lead, as Sikkens also went through to send Cavers into third. Side-by-side through Village into the Loop, cold tyres saw Sikkens exit the track momentarily to fall down into fourth, allowing John Dhillon (Graypaul, Nottingham) through.
Morrow immediately tried to break away, but Cavers wasn’t going to let him escape without a fight. Looming in the slip stream of the championship leader, the pair drove almost identically for several laps with just 23 thousandths of a second between their lap times. Meanwhile, a determined Sikkens, now with some heat in the tyres, reclaimed his spot from Dhillon to take third, but had fallen a way back from the leaders in the process. A spin in Coppa Shell then forced a Safety Car with 17 minutes left on the clock, allowing Sikkens to make up the 4.5 second deficit with the rest of the field.
Quietly creeping up the field was Faisal al-Faisal (HR Owen, London) who despite qualifying 7th in class and starting 11th on the grid, went on to set fastest lap of the race, having catapulted himself seven places into fourth after a sideways effort inside of Dhillon. Just 1.1 seconds separated the top four, as Cavers found himself between attacking for the win while also defending 2nd place from a fast-charging al-Faisal and Sikkens. With all four extremely close together, al-Faisal got the better of Sikkens as the pair went wheel-to-wheel through Brooklands just millimetres apart. It was last chance saloon for Cavers on the penultimate lap, who took a brave gamble braking late; a position that Morrow couldn’t possibly retake without contact, leaving Cavers to take his first win of the season.
The drivers wasted no time in cutting straight to the action as a five-car frenzy flew into the first right-hander. A compacted field caused problems within the first couple of corners as championship leader, Hogarth, was sent into a spin after taking some contact to the rear. Significant damage forced an early retirement, which instantly blew the title race wide open for Simmerson who now occupied the top spot. Not too far behind was Chris Smith (Graypaul, Birmingham) in second, who’d calmly managed to avoid the first-lap drama before overtaking Simmerson for the lead.
Peter Hunter (Stratstone, Manchester) spun early in the first sector to force a Safety Car before the midpoint of the race, compacting the field once again. With Hogarth out of the race, Simmerson immediately tried to capitalise on the points available as he lunged inside of Smith through Abbey on the restart without success. Cool and collected, Smith defended well, whilst Stuart Marston (Maranello Sales, Egham) took advantage of a distracted Simmerson for second place. Marston leapfrogged yet again to temporarily dethrone Smith, but an unfortunate 360-spin at Copse saw him hand both places back. A similar mistake a few laps later allowed Paul Rogers (JCT600, Leeds) into third from Simmerson, as jubilation filled the paddock to Smith’s celebration atop the winning car.
Silverstone Sunday 3 September 2023
Carl Cavers (Graypaul, Nottingham) won Race 1 from pole in the Trofeo Pirelli yesterday, while newcomer, Chris Smith (Graypaul Birmingham) saw his first career victory in the Coppa Shell. Both drivers took valuable to draw closer to the leaders of each class, as Race 2 shaped up to be a thrilling encounter.
Cavers found even more joy this weekend by taking pole again with a 2:04:286, adding to his points tally in pursuit of championship leader, Andrew Morrow (Charles Hurst, Belfast). Paul Rogers (JCT600, Leeds) went fastest in Coppa Shell with a 2:06:151, despite being blocked on his fastest lap and carrying a wrist injury, as a mere tenth separated the top three drivers.
17 drivers formed the grid for a sunny Silverstone afternoon, each freshly motivated to gain some points on the board after yesterday’s dramatic conclusion. Polesitter Cavers came out fighting from the green flag, dictating the pace with a defensive line through Abbey. Starting from second place on the grid, H. Sikkens (HR Owen, London) tried to make an early pass, but fell victim to his own distraction after an error through Abbey saw Morrow sail by. With a tussle going on between second and third behind the leader, Cavers’ new-found freedom allowed him to quickly set the fastest lap of the race through clean air, increasing his advantage by 4 seconds in just 5 laps.
In almost identical fashion to yesterday’s race, Faisal al-Faisal (HR Owen, London) began to snake his way up the field into 6th, having gained 7 places from a 13th start overall. Meanwhile, John Dhillon (Graypaul Nottingham) in 4th, lost his bonnet as damage from Race 1 came back to haunt him, leaving him at a disadvantage which allowed Graham de Zille (Meridien Modena) to capitalise. With debris on the track, a Safety Car period was necessary with 11 minutes to go, and Cavers’ mighty lead instantly evaporated.
The Safety Car pulled in after just one lap, allowing Cavers to rebuild the gap following his excellent judgement at the restart. Dhillon’s lack of aero meant he was fighting a losing battle, eventually letting al-Faisal past through Club corner for 5th for another impressive drive this weekend. The top three remained unchanged for the rest of the race as Cavers took maximum points on Sunday with a second win of the weekend, just as he did here last year. By taking 2nd place again, Morrow did all he could to maintain the gap in the standings, and takes an 8 point lead away from Silverstone going into Spa, as Sikkens completed the trio to keep himself in contention for the title.
The green light released the pack as Polesitter Rogers led the charge in Coppa Shell. Still seeking his first win of the season, he was determined to maintain track position for as long as he could, but a reinvigorated Robert Rees (Dick Lovett, Swindon) pulled a sneaky manoeuvre through Brooklands before heavy traffic into the hairpin helped to reshuffle the order in his favour. By the end of this exchange, Rogers had blinked and lost 3 places as a determined Stuart Marston (Maranello Sales) profited from the tussles in traffic, passing Paul Simmerson (Graypaul, Birmingham) in his travels on the exit of Luffield.
Rees’ opportunism paid dividends, as he’d built in a two-driver buffer from the class above as Marston and Simmerson now battled traffic as well as each other. A trio of equally enthusiastic drivers slinked through Becketts in unison, with Simmerson gaining on Marston for 2nd but any move for the position had to be timed to perfection as Rogers was waiting patiently to pounce in 4th. Simmerson finally lunged in an extremely brave move to undercut Marston through the Loop and take the position. Marston inherited a new problem with Rogers now behind him, with flashing lights and a Challenge car filling his mirrors at every turn. The pressure from Rogers finally prevailed through Aintree Corner as he forced a mistake from Marston, who ran wide and lost the position.
The Safety Car in the second half of the race allowed Smith, who had started from the pitlane at the start of the race after opting for new tyres, to catch up with the group and he overtook Marston for 4th shortly after the restart. As the traffic unravelled behind Rees, Simmerson took advantage of the distracted leader to overtake him through Club for the top spot. The quartet endured a frantic few corners, as Rogers went the long way round through Village, kindly opening the door for Smith too as the pair sent Rees into 4th.
Rogers took one last look at Simmerson through Stowe, but it proved to be a bridge too far as Graypaul Birmingham took home their second win of the weekend and two podiums for each of their drivers.
Star of the season, Andrew Morrow (Charles Hurst, Belfast), remains top of his class with 113 points, as Carl Cavers (Graypaul, Nottingham) sits just 8 points behind on 105 after picking up a double win in Round 4. It’s all to play for going into the final round of the season at Spa, with former champion H Sikkens (HR Owen, London) still in contention on 91 points.
Paul Simmerson (Graypaul, Birmingham) takes the top spot with 101 points to narrowly clear Paul Hogarth (Stratstone Manchester) now in second on 97, after he suffered a damage-induced DNF in Race 1 and mechanical issues in Race 2. In third, Chris Smith (Graypaul, Birmingham) sits on 65 after two podiums this weekend, to overtake Stuart Marston (Maranello Sales, Egham) with a 7-point gap. Jonathan Satchell (HR Owen, London) and Paul Rogers (JCT600, Leeds) could both still catch third with a string of results at Spa.
The fifth and final round of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli UK series heads to Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium 15-17 September.