BRASELTON, GA., MAY 13. Outstanding weather and close racing marked the final day of the Ferrari Challenge at Road Atlanta. Three races were held for the 355/360 Challenge cars, two of them with winners scoring their first victories in the 2001...
BRASELTON, GA., MAY 13. Outstanding weather and close racing marked the final day of the Ferrari Challenge at Road Atlanta. Three races were held for the 355/360 Challenge cars, two of them with winners scoring their first victories in the 2001 North American season.
Lucio Nicolodi (Ferrari of Beverly Hills) had won the Saturday race for Group A 360 Challenge cars, and started from pole on Sunday. He led only six laps, though, before a flat tire caused an unscheduled pit stop and a 21st place finish. Carlos Hank Gonzalez (Ferrari of Houston), who had started third took the lead from Nicolodi, but a one-car crash involving Lew Bakes (Ferrari of Washington), running in second place, brought out the safety car. Hank Gonzalez timed his restart perfectly when the green flag was shown, and won by almost one second over Jim McCormick (Ferrari of Washington). Darius Grala passed Doug Peterson, his Shelton Sports Cars teammate, on the last corner of the last lap to take third.
Michael Ciasulli (Ferrari of Central Florida) led the Group B race for only one lap before spinning and allowing Pierre Schroeder (Ferrari of Long Island) into the lead. Schroeder held the lead for 11 laps but was then sidelined by mechanical problems; William Wright (Ferrari of Orange County) had been close behind Schroeder, and passed his slowing car to take the win. Bill Jennings (Ferrari of Long Island) and Dan Kennedy (Scottsdale Ferrari) completed the top three overall and in the 360 class. It was Wright's first win ever in the series, and an extremely popular one with other competitors.
Philip Shearer (Ferrari of Long Island), points leader in the 355 class, arrived at the track only 30 minutes before the race began. With no qualifying time he started from the back of the grid, but was able to finish seventh overall and first among the 355s. Ken Rice and Forest Barber, Ferrari of Dallas teammates, finished second and third in the 355 class.
Special awards were presented to George Flefel (Ferrari of Washington) as the Best New Driver, Joe Pontoriero (Ferrari of Long Island) for the Greatest Gain in positions, and to Ferrari of Houston as the Best Crew, for repairs to the 360 of Carlos Hank Rhon between morning warmup and the race.
The day ended with the one-hour Endurance Challenge race. Jim McCormick and Darius Grala continually swapped the lead for the first 15 laps; Glenn Boros (Ferrari of Washington) then led for four laps until again passed by Grala. Boros regained the lead during the mandatory pit stops and took his second consecutive Endurance Challenge win. Grala held second until near the end, but his tires were going off after the early battles for the lead. Stephen Richards (Ferrari of Long Island) had driven a strategic race, and passed Grala for second almost at the checkered flag.
The next event for the North American Challenge series will be with the Canadian Grand Prix, at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal on June 10th.