Silverstone in Northamptonshire gains something of an Italian flavour this weekend as our Midlands Centre gets set to oversee the latest rounds of this year’s European variant of the Ferrari Challenge, the official one-make series of the legendary Italian sports car marque that takes in some of the world’s finest race tracks.

The Challenge is split into two separate series – the Trofeo Pirelli (Pirelli Trophy translated into English) and the Coppa Shell (Shell Cup). The former is reserved for drivers under the age of 50, be they seasoned veterans or complete rookies to the Challenge, while the latter is reserved for those over 50 and also welcomes varying levels of experience. There are subclasses within both to cater for “Am” drivers, those being more enthusiasts mainly enjoying their chance to race rather than hardcore racers going for glory.

All drivers take to the wheel of the awesome Ferrari 488 Challenge racer, which isn’t too dissimilar to that of the 488 road car. The engine is the same 3.9 litre 90-degree V8 which packs a potent 670bhp, making it the most powerful Challenge car Ferrari has ever produced. Coupled with a paddle-shift gearbox, refined aerodynamics and sticky Pirelli tyres, the 488 Challenge is one serious track weapon.

The championship will make use of the full GP circuit across both days with races on both Saturday and Sunday. In the main pro segment of the Trofeo Pirelli, Niklas Nielsen picked up two wins in the opening rounds at Mugello in Italy while Bjorn Grossmann, Alessandro Vezzoni and Henry Hassid all shared the podium places amongst them. Over in the Am division, Jan Danis and British driver Chris Froggatt shared a win apiece last time and Froggatt will be keen for more good results on his home circuit.

With the newcomers in the Coppa Shell, the initial names to look out for in the “pro” division include stalwart Erich Prinoth, who mimicked Nielsen’s success in the Trofeo Pirelli with his own brace of wins. Jean-Claude Saada and Thomas Gostner would join him on the podium all weekend, so expect the trio to be fighting it out for the top step. Over with the Am drivers, Ingvar Mattsson and Murat Ruhi Cuhadaroglu picked up a win apiece with podium finishers including Giuseppe Ramelli and Agata Smolka, so keep an eye on all of these names throughout both days.

As well as the main Ferrari Challenge, there’s also Maranello-inspired action from the Pirelli Ferrari Formula Classic, a championshop that caters to older but still much loved Ferrari sportscar models. The fastest cars on paper would appear to be the glorious collection of F355 Challenge race cars in Group 5, while a 550 Maranello is also in the mix here too. The rest of the entry is full of 328 and 308 variants, while a Mondial T is also set to feature as well. A perfect compliment to the weekend’s main racing activities.


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