The final week of August saw the Ferrari Challenge contingent come down to the famed Sepang F1 Circuit (their second last stop of the tour) with an armada of factory-prepped Ferrari 458s.
It was Round Six of the Prancing Horse challenge, and each of the 19 drivers pitted in a head-to-head race in the one-make racing series. Steve Wyatt brought the thunder from Down Under with a podium finish on both Race 1 and Race 2 around the 5.543 km long track.
The drivers were doing an average of 2 minutes 15.5 seconds, thanks to a set of super-sticky Pirelli rubbers. The Ferrari 458 in question here isn’t your standard production model, but rather the 458 Challenge Evoluzione. It still uses the same road-going 4.5-litre V8, but here it is tuned to churn out 750 hp at 9,000 rpm! All that power is shot through the rear wheels via a seven-speed F1-style dual clutch close-ratio gearbox.
The Evoluzione has a factory-spec aero kit with a revised front spiltter and a huge rear wing to increase downforce. Ferrari’s engineers have tweaked the suspension and brakes to handle various track conditions as well. Weight reduction on the other hand, goes into overdrive with most panels replaced by lighter and thinner materials. All those modifications mean that the 458 Challenge Evoluzione is just 0.2 seconds slower around the hallowed Fiorano test track than the Ferrari FXX!
Both races were broken down into three classes, beginning with Race 1. The first category was Trofeo Pirelli, the very race which saw Steve Wyatt dominating the class. The Australian driver also set the fastest lap time of 2:14.509 in the second lap of the race. Pirelli Championship leader Renaldi Hutasoit finished second and Indonesian driver David Tjiptobiantoro came in third.
The Trofeo Pirelli AM cup saw Swedish driver Alexander West clench his first-ever podium win, while Stefano Montesi and Xu Wei came in second and third respectively. In the Coppa Shell Class, Chinese driver Yanbin Xin showed unfettered determination to extend his four consecutive wins to five in Race 2 on Sunday. The other two podium places belonged to Japanese driver Ken Seto and Chinese driver Huilin Han.
On Sunday, Wyatt led the race from start to finish and once again stood proudly at top of the podium, beating Renaldi Hutasoit by a whopping 11.308 seconds. Coming in third place was Indonesian driver, David Tjiptobiantoro.
The Trofeo Pirelli AM cup witnessed a fierce battle for first and second places, as Alexander West emerged victorious while Chinese driver Wei Xu trailed behind the Swede by 2.917 seconds. Jung Hoon Youn of Korea came in third, who hosted the first three seasons of Top Gear Korea.
Huilin Han of car 139 took home his first ever podium finish in the Coppa Shell class. Fellow compatriot Yan Bing Xing, who won Saturday’s race, followed closely in second place. Both cars were separated by a gap of only 0.662 seconds. Bo Song, also from China, settled for third.
The contingent will be flying to Italy for the Finali Mondiali Mugello or the World Finals at the Mugello Circuit in Tuscany. It is scheduled to take place from 5 to 8 November.