Ferrari has always been synonymous with motorsports and when given a chance to see a Ferrari race up close, one should grab it with both hands. Amid the hot and humid weather in Sepang over the weekend, Round 4 of the 2016 Ferrari Challenge Asia Pacific served up some spectacular and dramatic racing.
The Ferrari Challenge was created back in 1993 for Ferrari owners who wanted to be involved in motor racing. The Challenge series expanded into Asia in 2011 and Sepang International Circuit has been hosting the Malaysian round of the race since its inception. This year’s race has attracted 31 participants from 13 different countries.
This single model racing series uses the Ferrari 458 Challenge track-only race car, capable of lapping the Fiorano test track in 1:16.5, which is only 0.2 seconds slower than the Ferrari FXX. The road legal version of the 458 is powered by a 4.5 liter Ferrari F136 F V8 engine and mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, capable of producing 562 hp and 540 Nm of torque. It was succeeded by the 488 GTB in 2015.
There are three-classes in the championship, namely the Trofeo Pirelli for professional level drivers, Trofeo Pirelli AM for amateur level drivers, and the Coppa Shell for amateur “gentleman drivers”. Ferrari Challenge is currently managed by Ferrari’s Corse Clienti (“customer racing”) department, where interested drivers can sign up for a fee to join the series.
Two races in Round 4 took place over last weekened (6 to 7 August) at the 5.5 km circuit. Track temperature was hovering around 50 degrees Celcius, posing a physical challenge to the drivers. In the first leg on Saturday, Steve Wyatt from Australia led the 14-lap race from start to finish, with Alexandar West from Sweden and Florian Merckx from Belgium completing the podium for the Trofeo Pirelli class. West was constantly attacking Wyatt throughout the entire race, but could not find a way past the eventual winner. The fastest lap of the race was set by Florian Merckx with a time of 2:12.152.
In the Pirelli AM class, table leader Xin Jin from China took the win, with compatriot Huilin Han 0.861 seconds behind in second place. Third place went to Greg Teo from Singapore. Xin Jin also claimed the fastest lap with a time of 2:13.343.
Liang Wang from China won the Coppa Shell class, followed closely by Makoto Fujiwara from Japan and Yuan Yang from China. The podium finishers finished within one second of each other. The Gentlemen Cup went to Tamotsu Kondo from Japan.
Race 2 on Sunday (7/8) saw 26 drivers taking to the track, with Australian Steve Wyatt and Chinese Liang Wang repeating their wins from Race 1 in the Trofeo Pirelli class and Coppa Shell class respectively, while Huilin Han from China took the win in the Pirelli AM class.
There were more dramas during the race on Sunday where the second runner up from Race 1 had to start at the back of the grid due to a pit-lane infringement. Florian Merckx from Belgium later fought his way up the grid and ended up in fourth position, again setting the fastest lap of the race with a time of 2:11.909. Indonesians Renaldi Hutasoit and David Tjiptobiantoro completed the podium.
In the Pirelli AM class, Xin Jin from China was leading the race up until lap 13, when he was served with a drive-through penalty, allowing Huilin Han to win the race. Canadian Eric Cheung grabbed second place, while Jin took the final spot on the podium. The fastest lap was set by Xin Jin with a time of 2:13.778.
The Coppa Shell class also provided some exciting action, where second and third placed finishers Ken Seto from Japan and Sam Lok from Hong Kong tried hard but failed to overtake Liang Wang. Australian Paul Montague claimed the Gentlemen’s Cup.
There are two more rounds of the Ferrari Challenge Asia Pacific races to go, to be held in Singapore and Fuji in Japan respectively, before the champions of all Ferrari Challenge series converge at Daytona in December for the Finali Mondiali grand finals.
Standings after Round 4:
- Steve Wyatt (AUS) – 145 pts
- Hutasoit Renaldi (INA) – 127 pts
- Florian Merckx (BEL) – 118 pts
- Alexander West (SWE) – 46 pts
- Kantasak Kusiri (THA) – 39 pts
- David Tjiptobiantoro (INA) – 25 pts
- George Chou (TPE) – 18 pts
- Toru Tanaka (JPN) – 17 pts
- Sarun Sereethoranakul (THI) – 14 pts
- Ringo Chong (SIN) – 14 pts
- Wei Xu (CHN) – 13 pts
Trofeo Pirelli AM
- Xin Jin (CHN) – 126 pts
- Huilin Han (CHN) – 113 pts
- Eric Cheung (CAN) – 100 pts
- Yanbin Xing (CHN) – 88 pts
- James Weiland (USA) – 45 pts
- Hidehiko Hagiwara (JPN) – 43 pts
- Go Hayato (JPN) – 43 pts
- Jeff Youn (KOR) – 35 pts
- Vincent Wong (HKG) – 31 pts
- Ting Zheng (CHN) – 30 pts
- Tani Hanna (LEB) – 23 pts
- Greg Teo (SIN) – 17 pts
- Kuninari Mori (JPN) – 14 pts
- Masaru Suzuki (JPN) – 9 pts
- Sky Chen (CHN) – 4 pts
- Liang Wang (CHN) – 155 pts
- Ken Seto (JPN) – 103 pts
- Yuan Yang (CHN) – 81 pts
- Paul Montague (AUS) – 50 pts [Coppa Gentleman]
- Sky Chen (CHN) – 43 pts
- Nan Hu (CHN) – 39 pts
- Bo Song (CHN) – 37 pts
- Makoto Fujiwara (JPN) – 34 pts
- Min Xiao (CHN) – 27 pts
- Yugo Tanabe (JPN) – 24 pts [Coppa Gentleman]
- Grant Baker (NZL) – 22 pts
- Sam Lok (HKG) – 19 pts
- Kent Chen (TPE) – 11 pts
- Jing Shi (CHN) – 10 pts
- Alan Yeo (AUS) – 9 pts
- Ken Wu (CHN) – 6 pts
- Tamotsu Kondo (JPN) – 6 pts [Coppa Gentleman]
- Chengwei Hu (CHN) – 6 pts [Coppa Gentleman]
- Jong Choul Cho (KOR) – 5 pts
- Eric Cheng (SIN) – 3 pts
- Andrew Moon (KOR) – 3 pts
- Clerebold Chan (HKG) – 2 pts
- Karin Nagadipurna (INA) – 1 pt
- Yuki Takeda (JPN) – 0 pt
Image Source: Corse Clienti Ferrari