VETERAN FERRARI CHALLENGE DRIVERS ON PODIUM IN MONTREAL (MONTREAL, PQ, June 11) At Savannah, Georgia in 1993 six drivers brought their new Ferrari 348 Challenge cars, for the first test of a new concept, the "Ferrari Challenge." One...
VETERAN FERRARI CHALLENGE DRIVERS ON PODIUM IN MONTREAL
(MONTREAL, PQ, June 11) At Savannah, Georgia in 1993 six drivers brought their new Ferrari 348 Challenge cars, for the first test of a new concept, the "Ferrari Challenge." One of those drivers was Allie Ash, and almost 14 years later he stood on the top step of the podium at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve as the winner of the Ferrari Challenge race just prior to the 2007 Grand Prix of Canada.
A newer driver finished just behind Ash. Martin Burrowes, a local favorite from Quebec, first raced in the Challenge in 2004 but has competed only a few times, preferring the Canadian events. Burrowes qualified fifth, and avoided other drivers' mistakes to take the lead on the third lap of the 15 lap race. He held the lead until only two laps from the finish, when Ash passed for the lead. Burrowes finished only one second behind Ash. Burrowes' second place led Canadians to four of the top five places, with Michael Louli in third, followed by Lawrence Stroll in fourth, and Patrice Brisebois fifth.
Louli is the driver with the longest continuous participation in the Ferrari Challenge. He first raced in 1995, and hasn't missed a season since. Louli was gridded 18th on the 33 car grid of equal Ferrari F430 Challenge racers. He never put a wheel wrong, and in one of the outstanding drives of the race took the final spot on the podium.
Ferrari Challenge races on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve have a tradition of excitement, and the 2007 edition was no exception. John Horejsi took pole position in qualifying with Lawrence Stroll alongside on the front row; each has already won in 2007. Jay Lee, Horejsi's teammate, and Scott Tucker, another 2007 winner, occupied the second row.
Montreal's Turn One-Two complex has proven to be difficult for even the best Formula One drivers, and the front of the Challenge field suffered the same difficulties. Stroll had taken the lead at the green, but Horesji tapped Stroll from behind in the second turn, pushing him off course. Horesji led the first lap but was given a "stop and go" penalty for the contact in the first turn.
Robert Fata had qualified sixth. A good start and the ability to avoid problems put him in the lead on the second lap, but it wasn't to last. Jay Lee tried an inside pass at Turn eight; Fata pitted with damage, Lee pitted for a "stop and go" penalty, and Burrowes took the lead.
A few laps later another contact incident resulted in fluid on the track, and the safety car was brought out while the spill was cleaned up. At this point Burrowes was followed by Ash, Brisebois, Michael Vitarelli, Louli, Alfred Caiola, and Christopher Ruud. Racing resumed, but two laps from the end Ash passed Burrowes for the lead. Brisebois ran wide almost in sight of the checkered flag and Louli completed a textbook pass for the final podium spot Caiola crossed the line in fourth place, but a penalty dropped him to sixth behind Stroll and Brisebois.
Mike Zoi had led the championship points standings coming to Canada. Zoi qualified 23rd but an apparent gridding error started him last. He worked his way to ninth, but that finish, combined with Stroll's fourth place, leaves the pair tied for the lead in the championship, follow by Horesji.
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, Pirelli, Sabelt, and Shell.
The Challenge will remain in Quebec for its next race, at Le Circuit in Mont-Tremblant on June 16-17. For more information on the Ferrari Challenge please visit www.ferrarichallenge.com.