This past weekend Race Sonoma hosted the third of the seven race series of the 2013 Ferrari North America Challenge Series. The 458 Challenge series is a single marque race series based on the Ferrari 458 Italia road car with slight modifications for racing. Aside from the two racers over the weekend Ferrari owners also get to take their cars out onto the track. In the past, we have also seen both the F1 Clienti and the FXX cars, these cars are brought to the track by the factory and maintains these cars on behalf of its customers.
The Challenge has also given Ferrari enthusiasts the opportunity to enjoy watching Ferraris in their natural environment — the race track. In addition to the racing, a car corral is created when attendees can showcase their cars so that visitors are able to see all types of Ferraris. Over the weekend things were not all Ferrari with a Fiat Abarth Autocross track setup for drivers to get a chance to get behind the wheel of one of these little pocket rockets.
The Challenge started in 1993 for the then-current Ferrari 348. As newer models were announced — the 355, 360 and F430 — special Ferrari Challenge versions of these cars were included in the series. This single-marquee racing series was designed to allow Ferrari owners to compete with fellow Ferrari owners on some of the world’s greatest race tracks. The Ferrari Challenge expanded to North America in 1994 with a full season of races and has been run every year since, making it the longest-running series of its type in North America. As of 2011, the 458 Challenge, the newest car created just for the series, had filled the grids.
Race 1 took place on Saturday with excitement on the track, Onofrio Triarsi got away to a fast start and was in pole position making his fastest lap of 4:44.134 on lap 3 and heading to the checkered flag until a mechanical failure ended his race. John Farano inherited the lead from Onofrio and stayed out in front until the finish, holding off several passing attempts from Carlos Kauffman who took second place, Michael Schein rounded out the top three in the Trofeo Pirelli category. In the Coppa Shell series, Brent Lawrence got off to a great start and never looked back, Marc Muzzo followed him home in second with Jon Becker taking third.
With warmer weather and clear skies it was another great day of action in Race 2 with the hotter temperatures it meant drivers were not going as fast as the previous day. However that did not deter Carlos Kauffman from moving up one place and securing the race win, crossing the finish line alomst two seconds ahead of Mark McKenzie. Emmanuel Anassis rounded out the poduim in third place. In the race for the Coppa Shell series Jon Becker secured the win finishing ahead of Saturday’s winner Brent Lawrence, the last place on the podium was taken by Marc Muzzo.
After a great weekend of action the drivers get a short break with the next round four of the series taking place at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in early June.