After many years being a superb series across the world for Ferrari enthusiasts, the UK edition of Ferrari Challenge was launched for the first time in 2019 with twenty drivers taking to the 488 model for a four-round calendar. The new one make series would get underway at Brands Hatch on the 18-19th May and was a roaring success, as a mix of drivers tackled the 670hp 3.9-litre V8 488 around the Indy circuit. Round two however would be a different challenge as the championship headed north to the Norfolk circuit of Snetterton. With the series backed by the official factory of Ferrari in Italy and drivers supported by leading Ferrari crews, including FIA WEC Le Mans winner and World Champion James Calado, the series was expected to go from strength to strength.
With the field split into two categories depending on experience levels of the drivers. Trofeo Pirelli and Coppa Shell, the racing was expected to be frantic throughout. In the Trofeo Pirelli category for the more experienced drivers, Jason Baker was the leading driver after the opening round, as a double win at Brands Hatch gave him championship advantage over closest rival, Jamie Clarke. The two were bumper to bumper throughout the season opener and expected to run wheel to wheel at Snetterton. Entering Snetterton the two were separated by ten points and standing out as title competitors, with Jon Wood sitting third, but twenty-four points adrift. Consistency seems key in this series as podium finishers Wayne Marrs and Paul Hogarth found out when results were so mismatched. In the Gentleman drivers’ category, Coppa Shell, it was Toby Flannagan who entered Snetterton the series leader, but the title race was much closer with three drivers covered by only seven points. Flannagan wasn’t a race winner at Brands as settled for second behind Mark MacAllister and Stuart Wilson, but his pole position and fastest lap points gave him the advantage. The outsider was Alex Moss coming into round two as the driver just off the podium at round one, so one to watch in Norfolk.
Baker Unbeatable on Saturday
The opening race of the weekend at Snetterton would take place on Saturday, with qualifying getting underway in the morning. Jason Baker would be on a hot lap straightaway but his rival Jamie Clarke was on it also. The two would dice over top spot for majority of the session, with Baker taking top spot with a time of 1:53,146, only 0.554s quicker than Clarke. The session was halted early though interrupting proceedings, when Coppa Shell race winner Stuart Wilson went off track heavy, bringing out the red flags. The front row in the Coppa Shell category at the end of the session was Gary Redman and Toby Flannagan, separated by two-tenths of a second, with Mark MacAllister only missing out on the front row by a whisker, setting up an exciting opener at Snetterton, taking place late afternoon.
When the lights went green for race one, nineteen cars got away well, with Stuart Wilson the only non-starter. From pole position, Baker controlled the rolling start to perfection, gaining advantage on rival Jamie Clarke of 1.5 seconds at the end of lap one. Wayne Marrs slotted into third on the opening lap, ahead of the No.72 of Jon Wood., who had company in the form of Martin Smith, a fast starter from row three. Behind the Trofeo Pirelli drivers, Gary Redman was the first to make a break, jumping up the order to create space between himself and Toby Flannagan. The field would run extremely close over the next few laps in both categories, but out-front overall Jason Baker was in control, increasing the gap to nearly three seconds by midway distance. Clarke was comfortable in second, as was Marrs in third. Fourth and fifth was a little closer and probably the best battle on track in the Trofeo Pirelli category, as Wood defended of every attempt from Martin Smith.
Back in the Coppa Shell category, the lead was being contested by Richard Guy, Flannagan, Gary Redman and Mark MacAllister. Redman had been in control, before MacAllister grabbed the advantage. Lap nine was crucial in deciding the podium places as a mistake by MacAllister cost him four places, slipping to fifth in class behind Alex Moss. The mistake handed Richard Guy the lead in class and he held onto the class lead to the chequered flag, with a healthy gap to second place competitor Gary Redman. Redman however had to defend hard to retain second spot, holding on by 0.354 seconds over Toby Flannagan.
In the Trofeo Pirelli class, Baker took the flag to take his third win of the season, but the advantage over Clarke had dropped to only 2.726 seconds. Wayne Marrs held onto the final podium spot, whilst in the hotly contested fight for fourth, Jon Wood bagged the points after keeping Martin Smith at bay by 1.343 seconds.
Trofeo Pirelli Ferrari Challenge One Top 3
- Jason Baker (No.29 – Dick Lovett Swindon) = 16 Laps = 30:45.999s
- Jamie Clarke (No.79 – Stratstone Manchester) = 16 Laps = +2.726s
- Wayne Marrs (No.60 – Dick Lovett, Swindon) = 16 Laps = +24.610s
Coppa Shell Ferrari Challenge Race One Top 3
- Richard Guy (No.83 – Charles Hurst) = 16 Laps = 32:03.175s
- Gary Redman (No.22 – Graypaul, Nottingham) = 16 Laps = 32:09.865s
- Toby Flannagan (No.69 – Maranello Sales) = 16 Laps = 32:10.219s
A Double-Double to End Round Two
For the second race of the weekend on Sunday the slate was wiped clean, with a new qualifying session getting the action underway. Conditions were perfect for a quick lap time and yet again Jason Baker and Jamie Clarke fought hard for pole position. As every lap ticked by their times came down, which meant that as the session was about to conclude, Clarke posted a 1:53.514 before Baker went even faster with a time of 1:52.711 to take another pole position at Snetterton. The front row in the Coppa Shell category was again fought between Gary Redman and Toby Flannagan, separated by only 0.246 seconds, both posting times in the 1:56 bracket, quicker than any other in the category.
The rolling start to get things underway again saw no hesitation from Baker, who blasted into an early lead, chased hard by Jamie Clarke. Lap times way faster than anyone else helped Baker create a sizable margin in the opening stages, helped when Clarke pushed too hard and made an error, losing over two seconds. As Baker and Clarke looked to have seized first and second, the battle for the final podium was entertaining every lap, as Josh Kirkwood-Jones held on from qualifying third to keep Wayne Marrs and Jon Wood behind. The three would run bumper to bumper over the next few laps before Josh found a chance to break and pulled away comfortably in third, a position retained up to the chequered flag. Wayne Marrs would continue to battle with Jon Wood up the final few laps, before pushing the gap out to 4.425 seconds at the chequered flag.
The Coppa Shell category would again see another great fight when the lights went green, as front row starters Gary Redman and Toby Flannagan fought for the class lead. Redman grabbed the early advantage and was able to create a gap when Flannagan came under pressure from the chasing pack. Richard Guy and Alex Moss were the drivers leading the charge for second, and both jumped Flannagan before the end of lap one. Once into second, Guy proceeded to close the gap to Redman, whilst Moss waited in the shadows with Flannagan fighting hard to recover lost ground. At the midway point in the race, Gary Redman was able to escape from Guy, as a challenge from Moss and Flannagan meant positions swapped and Guy dropped from second to fourth in class. Guy’s fightback was lost however in the closing stages as Mark MacAllister was targeting fourth position and jumped ahead, taking David Grover with him at the chequered flag.
Trofeo Pirelli Ferrari Challenge Race Two Top 3
- Jason Baker (No.29 – Dick Lovett Swindon) = 16 Laps = 30:43.672s
- Jamie Clarke (No.79 – Stratstone Manchester) = 16 Laps = 13.642s
- Josh Kirkwood-Jones (No.43 – Owen London) = 16 Laps = 26.789s
Coppa Shell Ferrari Challenge Race Two Top 3
- Gary Redman (No.22 – Graypaul, Nottingham) = 16 Laps = 31:50.071s
- Toby Flannagan (No.69 – Maranello Sales) = 16 Laps = 31:59.768s
- Alex Moss (No.1 – Graypaul, Nottingham) = 16 Laps = 32:02.503s
Ending the weekend with another double to his name, Jason Baker extended his lead at the top of the standings in the Trofeo Pirelli category to lead on an overall total of eighty-eight points with two rounds remaining. The Coppa Shell category remains closer but Toby Flannagan did enough even without a race win to remain on top. Flannagan lies on sixty-one points heading to the third round of the series, which takes place at Croft on the 20th-21st July 2019.
To keep up to date with the championship, we recommend you visit their website; https://races.ferrari.com/en/corse-clienti/ferrari-challenge/.
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Written and Produced by Chris Collier and Cheryl Closs.