Sebring, Florida | 8 April 2019 – Sweltering heat continued, accompanied by even higher humidity on Sunday, making things even harder for the drivers of Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli. The Ferrari 488 Challenge, however, stood up to the bumps and bruises of Sebring International Raceway well, as drivers fought to come to grips with the high speed and low grip offered by the nearly 70 year old racing surface.
Trofeo Pirelli. Cooper MacNeil made a statement at Sebring International Raceway with a dominant win in Race 2, beating Thomas Tippl by nearly 15 seconds. After some issues robbed Cooper of pace on Saturday, he switched to the back up car and his weekend completely changed. Starting with qualifying, Cooper carried his pace advantage into the race. The opening lap was full of high drama but excellent heads-up driving ensured everyone made it through safely. Benjamin Hites (The Collection) was the main victim of the drama when a big wiggle forced him wide and back into the field. That allowed Thomas Tippl (Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari of Beverly Hills) through to second while Ben had to fight forward, passing Trofeo Pirelli and Trofeo Pirelli AM competitors alike. Ultimately, he was able to regain his footing in third and closed to within six tenths of a second of Thomas, but could not pass.
Trofeo Pirelli AM. Ziad Ghandour (Boardwalk Ferrari) solidified himself as a podium contender in the Trofeo Pirelli AM category, beating out Barry Zekelman (Ferrari of Ontario) and Brent Holden (Scuderia CAVA, Ferrari of Newport Beach). Ziad and Barry Zekelman both spent much of their races mixing up with the Trofeo Pirelli category, especially Barry as he contested overall finishing position with Benjamin Hites. Ziad was six seconds up the road, while Barry was a further five seconds ahead of Brent. Brent, however, did an excellent job to hold up yesterday’s winner, Neil Gehani (Continental Autosport), as the two finished only three tenths of a second apart.
Coppa Shell. Mark Issa (Ferrari of Atlanta) made good on the pace he showed throughout the weekend with a win on Sunday leading home Dale Katechis (Miller Motorcars) and Geoff Palermo (Ferrari of San Francisco). A dramatic start saw Danny Baker run wide at Turn 1 and then spin at turn five, sending him plummeting back towards the back of the pack. That left Mark and Dale to build a gap over the rest of the field, something they did with relative ease. Geoff Palermo, however, had a dramatic race, making some strong passes at some of Sebring’s tighter corners. The high speed of the Ferrari 488 Challenge car, combined with tight corners at the end of long straights meant it was frequently the last of the late brakers that prevailed. Ultimately, an incident in the Coppa Shell AM category brought the race to a conclusion as the field was slowed behind the safety car and took the checkered flag to end the race.
Coppa Shell AM. Brian Davis (Ferrari of Palm Beach) dominated the Coppa Shell AM category, running a lights to flag victory where he frequently diced with the more experienced drivers in the Coppa Shell category until the late caution period confirmed his status as the Race 2 winner. He led home Jay Schreibman (Cauley Ferrari of Detroit) and Brad Horstman (Foreign Cars Italia). Jay also captured the Gentleman’s Cup trophy for Sunday. The leading Lady’s Cup contender, Lisa Clark, however, crashed out in Turn 12, and thus Debra Palermo (Ferrari of San Francisco) earned her first Lady’s Cup win of 2019.
Schedule. The North American series of Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli will return to racing on the second weekend of May for Ferrari Racing Days. The Ferrari Challenge drivers will join once again with the XX Program and F1 Clienti for the annual Ferrari Racing Days extravaganza.
Sebring, Florida | 7 April 2019 – Another scorching day welcomed drivers at Sebring International Raceway as temperatures inched up through the morning qualifying sessions. Coppa Shell drivers took advantage of the cooler temperatures, starting their pole position shoot out at 9.40am, before Trofeo Pirelli drivers took to the track for the first time at 10.20am
Trofeo Pirelli. Cooper MacNeil (Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari of Beverly Hills) made a statement in his qualifying session with a 2:03.301 second lap, leaving him almost nine tenths of a second clear of Benjamin Hites (The Collection). The Chilean driver gave it his all, running an extra lap compared to Cooper to try to inch closer to the American’s time, but was unable to close the gap in the hot and humid conditions. Thomas Tippl (Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari of Beverly Hills) bested Amir Kermani (The Collection) by only two tenths of a second to earn the third position.
Trofeo Pirelli AM. Ziad Ghandour (Boardwalk Ferrari) took a significant step forward on his performance from Saturday’s session to earn pole for race 2. His time, a 2:05.292 bested the best lap of Barry Zekelman (Ferrari of Ontario) by just two tenths of a second. Brent Holden (Scuderia CAVA Ferrari of Newport Beach) was able to pip yesterday’s pole sitter, Neil Gehani (Continental Autosports) by just one tenth of a second.
Coppa Shell. Mark Issa (Ferrari of Atlanta) took pole in the Coppa Shell category with a 2:06.723, besting yesterday’s pole sitter and winner, Danny Baker (Ferrari of Palm Beach) by three tenths of a second. Dale Katechis (Miller Motorcars) claimed third with a 2:07.470, a further four tenths adrift. If yesterday’s race is anything to go by, however, the trio will be nearly inseparable for the duration of the upcoming 30 minute race.
Coppa Shell AM. Brian Davis (Ferrari of Palm Beach) again took pole at the Sebring International Raceway. His Ferrari 488 Challenge car paced the Coppa Shell am field with a 2:07.796. Jay Schreibman (Cauley Ferrari) was the only driver who posed a serious challenge, setting a time that was only three tenths slower than Brian. Mark Davies (Wide World Ferrari) rounded out the top three in Coppa Shell.
Schedule. Racing action will get underway at 12:50pm for Coppa Shell followed by Trofeo Pirelli at 1:50pm.
Sebring, Florida, 7 April 2019 – Sweltering temperatures greeted Ferrari Challenge pilots for the first race day at Sebring International Raceway. Racing for the first time on the 3.74 mile circuit since 1999, pilots not only had to manage the notorious bumps of Turn 1 and 17, but also temperatures that topped 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The high temperatures, however, did not carry over to the circuit. Drivers maintained their cool, fighting clean and fair in both 30 minute sprint races.
Trofeo Pirelli. Benjamin Hites (The Collection) earned the win in the Trofeo Pirelli class after a hard-fought race fought in sweltering conditions. The race began with a dramatic opening 15 minutes when Martin Burrowes (Ferrari of Ft Lauderdale) jumped into the lead on the start. The race officials, however, determined that he had jumped the start and assessed a 15 second time penalty to his race time. That didn’t stop him, however, from holding off Benjamin for the opening segment of the race. Whenever Benjamin would make a move, Martin would inevitably rebuff the young Chilean driver and push him back into the clutches of the ever-lurking Cooper MacNeil (Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari of Westlake). Ultimately, Martin took too much life out of his Pirellis too early and committed a series of spins relegating him to the back of the pack. Ben took the win over the fading Cooper MacNeil who almost fell to the charging Thomas Tippl (Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari of Beverly Hills) as they crossed the line.
Trofeo Pirelli AM. Neil Gehani (Continental Autosports) ran an event-free race on his way to his first win of 2019. The American driver ultimately ended up finishing eleven seconds ahead of Brent Holden (Scuderia CAVA – Ferrari of Newport Beach). Brent also took the Gentleman’s Cup, earned by being the best finishing driver over 55. The closest battle in the Coppa Shell AM category was for third where Ziad Ghandour (Boardwalk Ferrari) took third over Chris Carel (Scuderia Corsa – Ferrari of Silicon Valley) by just over a second at the line.
Coppa Shell. Danny Baker (Ferrari of Palm Beach) continued his run of remarkable performances with a win in Race 1 after a hard-fought race against Dale Katechis (Miller Motorcars). The Coppa Shell race was neutralized by a safety car after 2nd place starter Mark Issa (Ferrari of Atlanta) made contact with another driver and ultimately retired. The break seemed to re-energize Danny’s nearest challengers as he fended off several attacks in the final fifteen minutes of the contest. Claude Senhoreti (Ferrari of Ft. Lauderdale) ultimately took the third and final spot on the podium.
Coppa Shell AM. Brian Davis (Ferrari of Palm Beach) took a dominant win in Coppa Shell AM. He scrapped with the very top of the Coppa Shell category, finishing 13 seconds ahead of his nearest challenger, Ladies Cup winner Lisa Clark (Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari of Beverly Hills). Lisa held off significant pressure, but was able to take advantage of other battles a bit further back to build a gap of two seconds over Ted Giovanis (Scuderia CAVA – Ferrari of Washington).
Schedule. Ferrari Challenge will return to the Sebring International Raceway for warm up at 9am on Sunday. Qualifying will begin at 9:40am followed by racing action at 12:50pm
Sebring, 6 April 2019 – Ferrari Challenge has returned to the bumps and undulations at Sebring International Raceway after a 20 year absence, with the field setting qualifying times in the cooler morning hours before getting ready for races this afternoon.
Trofeo Pirelli. Benjamin Hites (The Collection) claimed pole position, pipping Cooper MacNeil (Scuderia Corsa Ferrari of Westlake) by just over one tenth of a second. It was an excellent result for the young Chilean driver having trailed Cooper by nearly half a second in yesterday’s practice sessions. New arrivals to the Trofeo Pirelli category, Thomas Tippl (Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari of Beverly Hills) and Martin Burrowes (Ferrari of Ft Lauderdale) put on a great performance to qualify so close to their more experienced competitors. Ultimately, Martin took the third position, 1.5 seconds off of Cooper, but less than a tenth of a second ahead of Thomas Tippl, who sits fourth.
Trofeo Pirelli AM. Neil Gehani (Continental AutoSports) claimed pole position ahead of Brent Holden (Scuderia CAVA Ferrari of Newport Beach) and Chris Carel (Scuderia Corsa Ferrari of Silicon Valley). The trio were able to put together similar times to some of the Trofeo Pirelli drivers and were all in a clump of eight drivers who were within a single second of each other.
Coppa Shell. Danny Baker (Ferrari of Palm Beach) was able to put it all together and claim pole position again in the Coppa Shell category with a 2:06.768. His lap left no question who was the fastest Coppa Shell driver of the day, as he was the only driver to crack the 2 minute, 7 second barrier. He qualified ahead of Mark Issa (Ferrari of Atlanta) and Claude Senhoreti (Ferrari of Ft Lauderdale).
Coppa Shell AM. Brian Davis (Ferrari of Palm Beach) took pole position in Coppa Shell AM over Jay Schreibman (Cauley Ferrari of Detroit) and Lisa Clark (Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari of Beverly Hills). It was a remarkable qualifying performance for Brian as he separated himself from the rest of the Coppa Shell AM field by over a second. Lisa Clark also put in a strong performance with her best qualifying performance in the series.
The North American series of Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli will make its way to Sebring International Raceway April 5 through 7 for the second round of its seven round 2019 calendar. Fifty one drivers will take on the classic 3.74 mile, 17 turn circuit, starting with practice sessions on Friday followed by qualifying and racing action on Saturday and Sunday.
Historic Setting. Sebring’s place in the lore of sports car racing in North America began two years after its opening with a 12 hour competition of endurance that became known as the 12 Hours of Sebring. Initially raced over the adjacent airfield, leveraging runways and taxiways, the circuit became known for its rough, changeable concrete surface and its utter lack of elevation change, a byproduct of the Florida topography. Held every year since 1952, the Sebring 12 Hour has become a benchmark for endurance sports car racing, both in the US and internationally, and the scene of a number of notable Ferrari sports car wins, with the first overall win coming in 1956 and the most recent overall win in the monstrous 333SP in 1998.
Mind the Bumps. This will be the first time that Ferrari Challenge has visited the south Florida circuit in the current decade, meaning many drivers will be unfamiliar with its particular characteristics. Two critical corners, turn 1 and turn 17 both have significant undulations and will require commitment and precision to navigate successfully. In turn 1, the apex is not visible at the turn in point, and is right up against a concrete wall to the inside. At track out, a surface change and narrowing of the course make for a difficult opening to the lap. Turn 17, however, offers a greater challenge, and larger bumps. Drivers will arrive in 7th gear and will need to slow to 4th gear through a corner that has many correct lines. It also has some of the worst bumps on the circuit, making power application extremely difficult. Watching the 488 Challenge car and Ferrari Challenge pilots navigate these two corners will certainly be a highlight of the weekend.
Broadcast to Augment Challenge Experience. The North American leg of Ferrari Challenge will be live streamed via live.ferrari.com for all stand-alone rounds going forwards in 2019. Drivers, family, friends and fans will be able to tune-in on live.ferrari.com on race day to see the racing schedule, and learn more about the Ferrari Challenge series and its participants.
Championship Battles. While it is still early days, some championship battles are coming in to focus. In Trofeo Pirelli, Cooper MacNeil (Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari of Westlake) leads Benjamin Hites (The Collection) by four points. The two swapped wins at COTA, and the rivalry will certainly continue for much of the season. In Trofeo Pirelli AM, Ziad Ghandour (Boardwalk Ferrari) has an eight point lead, earned by winning race 2 and taking pole position and fastest lap. His nearest competitor, Todd Morici (Wide World Ferrari) is just one point ahead of Barry Zekelman (Ferrari of Ontario). In Coppa Shell, Danny Baker (Ferrari of Palm Beach) had a perfect weekend with two wins, and leads Mark Issa (Ferrari of Atlanta) by eight points. In Coppa Shell AM, Brian Davis (Ferrari of Palm Beach) also had a perfect weekend with two wins, while the results behind him were a bit mixed. Ian Campbell (Ferrari of New England) currently leads the charge, but sits 19 points back, and only one ahead of his nearest competitor, Eric Marston (Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari of Westlake).
Schedule. On track action begins on Friday, with qualifying and racing on both Saturday and Sunday. The live stream will begin at 9:30AM on Saturday and will conclude after the podium at 3:35PM, and will recommence at 9:40AM on Sunday and end after the Sunday podium at 2:30PM.