BRASELTON, GA., MAY 12. A pair of extended caution periods slowed the race average, but the first day's races at the Road Atlanta round of the Ferrari Challenge still produced exciting racing, and a mix of old and new faces on the podium. The...
BRASELTON, GA., MAY 12. A pair of extended caution periods slowed the race average, but the first day's races at the Road Atlanta round of the Ferrari Challenge still produced exciting racing, and a mix of old and new faces on the podium.
The 22 fastest 360 qualifiers started the Group A race. Pole-sitter Lucio Nicolodi (Ferrari of Beverly Hills)took an immediate lead into the uphill Turn Two of the 2.54 mile track, but behind him Lew Bakes (Ferrari of Washington) passed Carlos Hank Gonzalez Ferrari of Houston) for second; Hank Gonzalez held off Jim McCormick, Bakes' Washington teammate, for third. The top four maintained position for several laps. Nicolodi was increasing his lead over Bakes until the safety car slowed the field to allow the damaged car of Paul Frame (Ferrari of Houston) to be moved after Frame contacted a barrier.
It seemed that the race had just restarted when the safety car was called out again, as brief rain showers caused slick track conditions. The rain seemed to stop and the field was to be released to resume racing when another shower brought the safety car out again, and the race finished under caution. Nicolodi, Bakes and Hank Gonzales were the podium finishers.
The track was drying for the Group B race, for the balance of the 360s and the 355 entries. Bill Rand (Ferrari of Houston) took an immediate lead from pole. He increased his lead every lap, and was never challenged for the win. Behind Rand, though, Pierre Schroeder (Ferrari of Long Island) and William Wright (Ferrari of Beverly Hills) passed outside pole starter Michael Ciasulli at the start; Ciasulli's drive back through the field to an eventual second was one of the highlights of the 30 minute race. Among the 355s pole qualified Ken Rice led his teammates Forrest Barber and Phillip Bennett to a Ferrari of Dallas 1-2-3 finish.
Another pair of Group A and B races and an Endurance Challenge race on Sunday will complete the Challenge program.