ZOI, STROLL WINNERS AT FERRARI CHALLENGE RACES IN HOMESTEAD (HOMESTEAD, FL, March 11) The Ferrari F430 Challenge, longest-running series of its type in North America, kicked off its 14th season and Ferrari's 60th anniversary year at ...
ZOI, STROLL WINNERS AT FERRARI CHALLENGE RACES IN HOMESTEAD
(HOMESTEAD, FL, March 11) The Ferrari F430 Challenge, longest-running series of its type in North America, kicked off its 14th season and Ferrari's 60th anniversary year at the Miami-Homestead Speedway in south Florida. Two races were the highlight of the weekend, and Mike Zoi and Lawrence Stroll each took a win on the 2.21 mile track. The Ferrari FXXs and Corse Clienti F1 cars were also part of the event.
Zoi, from Miami, races for the Shelton Ferrari team and dominated the first day. He qualified on pole by a half-second over Scott Tucker (Boardwalk Ferrari). This was Zoi's first-ever pole, and Tucker's first front-row start in the series. Jay Lee (Ferrari of Beverly Hills), Peter Castellana (Ferrari of Long Island), Joel Quaid (Auto Gallery) and Lawrence Stroll (Ferrari of Quebec) rounded out the first three rows.
Zoi led into Turn One at the start, with Lee ducking under Tucker for second. Tucker was then involved in a melee' when several cars tried to take the same line at the same time. Most of the field got through or around the incident, but Quaid and Mike Louli were eliminated on the spot. Tucker made it back to the pits to retire. Castellana also had to pit, and lost a lap to the field.
After several laps under yellow, Zoi easily led from the restart. Lee tried to challenge at several spots on the course, but Zoi showed poise and speed, and won by five seconds from Lee. Stroll could never catch the front pair, but had little trouble holding off Roberto Fata, Castellana's teammate, for third.
Skip Bennett (Ferrari of Washington) had run in the top six for most of the race; he was the highest-ranking new driver in the series until a late-race spin, giving John Farano (Ferrari of Ontario) that honor.
Results from the first race set the grid for the second, so Zoi again had pole, this time with Lee alongside. Stroll, Fata, John Horejsi (Ferrari of Beverly Hills), who had charged from 16th to fifth in the first race, and Ugo Colombo (The Collection) were the top six starters.
For 24 laps the race looked like a repeat of the previous day. Zoi led from pole with Lee challenging and Stroll in a strong third. Halfway through lap 25, though, Zoi spun. Lee took the lead, but he immediately had problems too, and retired with mechanical issues. Stroll had been immediately behind the pair, and easily led the last four laps. Horejsi and Fata had produced the best battle of the day for third; for lap after lap the pair were literally nose to tail. Horejsi finally passed Fata to take the final podium position.
Zoi still finished fourth, ahead of Colombo and Bennett, who had no problems and took the honors as the day's best new driver. Louli had been gridded last after his first-lap DNF the previous day, but it seemed unlikely the crash damage could be repaired at the track. The Ferrari of Ontario crew stayed up very, very late, and creativity (and duct tape) got the car in race-ready trim. Louli started 24th, passed seven cars on the first lap, and finally finished tenth, for one of the outstanding drives of the day.
At the podium ceremonies trophies for the first race were presented to Zoi, Lee, and Stroll by Antonello Coletta, head of Ferrari's Corse Clienti program. Maurizio Parlato, President of Ferrari North America, presented trophies to Stroll, Horejsi, and Fata for their finishes in the second race. Zoi and Stroll also received special winner's awards from Pirelli and Motorola.
With his two podium finishes in the first two races Stroll, who finished second in the 2006 Ferrari Challenge, has taken the early lead over Zoi for the 2007 title.
The Ferrari Challenge is organized by Ferrari North America, and sanctioned by the Grand American Road Racing Association. Drivers compete in specially built racing versions of the Ferrari F430, with preparation and race support handled by teams formed by authorized Ferrari dealers in North America. Preparation rules are very specific, and the series is intended to emphasize driving skill among lady and gentleman drivers. Sponsorship and support for the series comes from Motorola, Bose, Piaggio Aero, Pirelli, Sabelt, and Shell. The event at the Homestead-Miami Raceway was hosted by The Collection, the authorized Ferrari dealer in the Miami area.
The Challenge will next compete at Infineon Raceway in California on April 13-15, where the series will again be joined by the Shell Historics, the Ferrari FXXs, and the Corse Clienti F1 cars. For more information on the Ferrari Challenge please visit www.ferrarichallenge.com.