Ferrari Challenge North America – Double Wins and Texas Wind
The downpour suffered at the end of yesterday’s racing activities cooled the track temperatures this morning for the final day of competition seen by the drivers and their 458 Challenge EVOs in the third round of the North American Ferrari Challenge at Circuit of the Americas. The weekend saw not only two 30-minute races leading to drivers and team points accumulating in the 2016 season championship, but also several lapping sessions reserved to clients, a grand display of Ferrari’s supreme super cars, as well as the newest addition to the Prancing Horse heritage on showcase, the F12tdf sitting beside the 250 Tour de France. The Tifosi in attendance were also regaled with several lapping sessions completed by not just one, but two famed 333 SPs. Running alongside the prototypes were the 458 Italia GT2 and F430 Challenge.
Young and fast. The real entertainment of the day was found in the early afternoon when 36 drivers aligned themselves on the starter’s grid for Race 2 of the weekend. A very successful qualifying session found the young Gregory Romanelli (The Collection) sitting in pole position when the green flag waved. He qualified with the fastest lap time of 2.10:369. Although his high speeds benefitted him around the long straightaways and tight esses of the circuit, Ricardo Perez (Ferrari of Houston) was ready for the chase. Perez, yesterday’s Trofeo Pirelli winter, would not back down, especially during the restart in the latter portion of the race. A full course yellow was announced after Rob Hodes (Ferrari of Washington) and Matt Keegan (Ferrari of San Francisco) suffered an incident at the entry of Turn 11.
Key move. Perez maintained a true racer’s approach, finding the opportune time to overtake Romanelli. And within the final laps, the crowds saw Perez leading the pack and finish in first place for the Trofeo Pirelli class. Gregory Romanelli came in second and Nick Mancuso (Lake Forest Sportscar) in third, marking this Mancuso’s first podium finish this season.
Pirelli AM. Just like Perez, James Weiland (Boardwalk Ferrari) found himself standing at the top of the podium steps again in today’s race. Weiland maintained a steady pace, even sequestering himself amongst the Trofeo Pirelli pack. But he would still have to drive against his other Trofeo Pirelli AM compatriots. Marc Muzzo (Ferrari of Ontario), who suffered some contact in yesterday’s race, was ready for a comeback. Delivering performance and agility within the 3.4-mile course, the Canadian finished in second place. Steve Johnson (Ferrari of Ft. Lauderdale) continued his podium-finishing streak, coming in third place.
Coppa Shell. Joe Courtney, who continues to lead the Coppa Shell championship points standing, drove to a fulfilling finish in Austin. Jean-Claude Saada (Boardwalk Ferrari), however, would follow closely on his tail. And just as in previous races, the two would themselves tete-a-tete for a grand victory in their class. Courtney finished first and Saada in second place. And the Coppa Shell driver to finish in third place was newcomer Karl Williams (Ferrari of Beverly Hills). This is Williams’s first weekend racing with the Ferrari Challenge and he’s already found himself on the podium. The next round for the 2016 North American Ferrari Challenge season will be next month in conjunction with the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal June 10-12.