Passione Ferrari at Silverstone
A rather damp and chilly Silverstone circuit greeted competitors and visitors alike for the Passione Ferrari event over the weekend of 27-29 April, with cool temperatures and rain on the Friday and Saturday, whilst Sunday was predominantly dry, but overcast, with a wind dropping temperatures to not far from freezing point. Oh the joys of springtime in England!
The main part of the meeting was rounds of the Coppa Shell and Trofeo Pirelli 488 Challenge Europe Series, with two races for each group over the weekend. This was supported by a round of the Ferrari Owners’ Club of Great Britain’s Pirelli Ferrari Formula Classic Series, together with Customers’ Activity track sessions, where owners could test their cars and their own capabilities on the full Grand Prix circuit. A further feature of the gathering was the possibility of a test drive in one of a sextet of 488 Challenge cars on the Stowe Circuit, and Abarth test drives were also available on a course laid out close to it. Despite the poor weather there was a surprisingly good turnout of people arriving in their Ferraris, including an Enzo and a LaFerrari, and also taking them on the track – British stiff upper lip!
The FOCGB Pirelli Classic race was held on the Sunday morning, and featured a good twenty car entry spanning a variety of mid-engine V8 models, which ranged from a pair of Dino 308 GT4s to a trio of F355 Challenge cars, spread over five classes. The race featured a very close three way fight for the lead between the F355 Challenge cars of Wayne Marrs and Tim Mogridge, together with the very fleet and well pedalled 328 GTB of Gary Culver, with the race finishing in that order.
The quartet of 488 Challenge races, two of each series on Saturday and Sunday, also produced some exciting action, and despite the sometimes torrid weather conditions, there were relatively few off course excursions. The first race of the weekend was for the Coppa Shell runners early on the Saturday afternoon with twenty two cars in the entry list.
The qualifying session had seen Jean-Claude Saada put his # 116 Rossocorsa entry on overall pole position, with Alexander Nussbaumer taking pole position in the Am class in his # 136 Formula Racing entry. Because of the soaking wet conditions, the race was started behind the safety car, and once it peeled off it was the Czech driver Vladimir Hladik in his # 144 Baron Motorsport entry who took the initiative, and led the field quite comfortably all the way to the chequered flag.
Behind him there was a three way fight for the remaining podium places between the # 177 car of Fons Scheltema, the # 162 car of Christophe Hurni and the # 183 example driven by the Italian lady driver Manuela Gostner. She was running 2nd for much of the race, but was passed by the Challenge series veteran Scheltema whilst lapping back markers on the last lap, but she fended off the advances of Hurni to take her first podium position. The Am class win went to the pole sitter Nussbaumer, who finished well clear of the # 199 car of Ingvar Mattsson, who in turn was comfortably ahead of the # 172 example of Giuseppe Ramelli, who took the final class podium spot.
The first Trofeo Pirelli race, with twenty entries, took place later on the Saturday afternoon, and once again the race was started under the safety car due to the wet conditions. The race developed into a fierce two way battle for victory between the # 84 Octane 126 entry of Bjorn Grossmann and the # 9 Formula Racing entry driven by Niklas Nielsen, with this pair comfortably building a gap between themselves and the rest of the field as the race progressed, extending it to over 15secs by the time the chequered flag fell.
The race win went to Grossmann, who managed to pull out a couple of seconds over Nielsen at the flag, with the # 85 Rossocorsa entry of Vicente Potolicchio taking the final podium spot. In the Am category it was the # 93 Ferrari GB entry of Chris Froggatt that took the victory, narrowly ahead of the sister # 90 Ferrari GB entry of Jack Brown, with a distant Martin Nelson in his # 13 Scuderia Autoropa entry taking the final podium position.
Sunday’s Coppa Shell race saw a first corner incident bring out the safety car for four laps, whilst the four stricken cars were removed. This also involved the car of Manuela Gostner, which dropped her to last place, but a spirited drive saw her climb back to 9th place overall and 7th in class at the finish. The race win went to the # 162 Team Zenith Sion – Lausanne entry of Christophe Hurni, who had just missed out on the podium in Saturday’s race, followed by the # 181 Ineco – MP Racing entry of Erich Prinoth, a scant 1.249secs in arrears at the flag, with Vladimir Hladik getting his second podium finish of the weekend. In the Am class it was the # 199 Scuderia Autoropa entry of Ingvar Mattsson that took the honours, comfortably ahead of the Saturday’s class winner Alexander Nussbaumer.
The final race of the day was the second Trofeo Pirelli round of the weekend, where once again it was a fierce two way battle for victory between the # 84 Octane 126 entry of Bjorn Grossmann and the # 9 Formula Racing entry driven by Niklas Nielsen, with the latter reversing the race order from Saturday to take the win. A bit further back there was an equally fierce battle for the final podium spot between the # 47 Charles Pozzi entry of Henry Hassid and the # 92 Ferrari GB entry of Sam Smeeth, with the former claiming the spot.
In the Am class it was once again the # 93 Ferrari GB entry of Chris Froggatt that took the victory from the sister # 90 Ferrari GB entry of Jack Brown, but he had to work hard for it after a poor start saw him drop to 4th in the opening stages of the race.
All Photos by Keith Bluemel