The incredible 458 Challenge EVOs of the Ferrari Challenge North America Series returned to Sonoma Raceway for the 11th consecutive year. This highly-anticipated event, a long-standing highlight for Northern California Ferrari fans delivered a weekend of exciting racing.
Ferrari also had two very unique cars at the event the first was the Ferrari Sergio. The Sergio was a sports car inspired by this Pininfarina Sergio prototype designed by Pininfarina in 2013 and uses the naturally aspirated V8 of the Ferrari 458 Special. The second was the F50 GT, chassis 01 test car which was a prototype based on the F50 that was built to compete in GT1-class racing. The car featured a fixed roof and a large rear spoiler, with a new front spoiler as well as other refinements. The 4.7 litre V12 engine was tuned to generate around 750 bhp. In testing the car proved to be quicker than the 333SP, but alas Ferrari cancelled the F50 GT project to focus on Formula One.
The Ferrari Challenge has thrilled drivers and fans alike since its inception in 1993. Running on the most beautiful and renowned circuits in the world, the Challenge provides Ferrari clients who have a passion for racing a championship series that is designed to allow drivers to enjoy themselves and their cars in both a competitive and safe environment.
This event marked the second of seven races for the 2016 North American Ferrari Challenge, the longest-running single-make series featured in three different regions around the world – North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.
On day 1 of the two day event it was dark clouds and constant precipitation that met the drivers. However none of this could dampen the excitement of the drivers and spectators and when the 34 458 Challenge EVOs took to the track it certainly made up for it.
In the Trofeo Pirelli class and coming off two consecutive victories in Daytona at the start of the season, the reigning North American champion, Emmanuel Anassis, found himself leading the pack from start to finish. But the race to the finish line was not one with a lack of competition. Anassis would find himself tete-a-tete with Carlos Kauffmann on more than one occasion. And chasing Kauffmann was Gregory Romanelli. Ultimately Kauffmann and Romanelli would finish second and third respectively and Anassis also claimed the fastest lap of the day at 1:54:983.
In the Pirelli AM class just like Anassis, Steve Johnson took to the top of the podium for the third consecutive time. His steadfast approach throughout the race brought him to a clear victory in his class. Patrice Brisebois tried to overtake Johnson for the lead, but the opportune moment never came and he would finish second.
With further rain on day two of the event the qualifying session scheduled in the late morning was cancelled and the starting grid was based on the race results from the previous day. However, much to the enjoyment of both drivers and spectators the sun peeked through the clouds when the drivers were asked to start their engines.
Beginning the race at the top of the field was Saturday’s winner, Emmanuel Anassis. An exciting start with the wave of the green flag brought the Tifosi in attendance to their feet. With side-by-side action into turn 1, Carlos Kauffmann nearly brushed the rear of Gregory Romanelli who started the race in second position. And although Anassis had an excellent run during the 35-minute race, Romanelli found an opportune moment at the restart to overtake the Canadian on the underside of the entry turn. Not only did the two battle it out, but Kauffmann had a run on everyone’s tail, clocking the fastest time on track with 1:42:407. Romanelli finished in first place, with Anassis and Kauffmann in second and third place.
Equally as enticing was the competition found with the Trofeo Pirelli AM drivers. Steve Johnson, had to fight as the concrete dried, the drivers were faster and more aggressive in their strategies. Patrice Brisebois worked the best in the conditions which led him to the victory and his first time standing on top of the podium this season. Arthur Romanelli finished in second place and Johnson in third.
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