FF Corse celebrated a best-ever weekend in the Ferrari Challenge Europe with a double win at a snowy Red Bull Ring that left their drivers leading two different championships.
A debut win for Adam Carroll in the Trofeo Pirelli plus a class victory for Jack Brown that elevated him to the head of the Am points, and a Coppa Shell Am podium for Laurent de Meeus, capped off an incredible event for the Silverstone-based team.
Having rejoined FF Corse just a few weeks ago, Northern Irishman Adam produced an excellent performance to come away with a commanding victory in greasy track conditions in Race One.
The former IndyCar and Formula E racer started from the outside of the front row, but took just a handful of corners to lead in his Pizza Forte-supported Ferrari Budapest 488 Challenge, and was never headed despite the safety-car twice removing a healthy advantage.
His victory was the first outright success of 2019 for FF Corse in the Ferrari Challenge Europe’s top division.
Having scored his maiden Trofeo Pirelli Am category win last time out at Valencia, Graypaul Nottingham’s Jack Brown was in a class of his own in the wet conditions in Austria.
He stormed to a double pole position to increase his streak to four in a row, but was forced to start Race One from seventh spot once a six-place success penalty – incurred as a result of his Valencia victory – was applied.
Undeterred, the British racer made a sensational start to climb to fourth place and was at the front by lap eight; having carved through the field in just two green-flag laps; the rest having been spent behind the safety car.
Even with the snow-enforced cancellation of Sunday’s race, Jack’s form allowed him to take over the lead of the Am standings; 13 points clear of his nearest rival.
In the Coppa Shell, Laurent de Meeus retained his Am points lead with a well-deserved podium finish in the one race that did go ahead on Sunday.
Having qualified a career-best second in Am – and sixth overall – during the morning, the HR Owen driver held his nerve in weather conditions that necessitated starting behind the safety car and finished second; his fourth podium from six races this year.
The previous day the Belgian had qualified seventh, which became ninth with success penalties applied, and then finished seventh as the worsening weather conditions made it near-impossible to follow other cars closely.
He leads the standings by two points with three of seven rounds complete.
The next event breaks with the traditional Ferrari Challenge format and will feature a single 40-minute race in support of the Le Mans 24 Hours with both Trofeo Pirelli and Coppa Shell competitors taking to the track together.
Adam Carroll, Ferrari Budapest, said: “It’s been a really good weekend, despite the weather, and obviously to win on my Ferrari Challenge debut feels great. We did some good work in the small bit of dry running we had on Friday, but it took a bit of building up in the wet to try and find a set-up where I could really maximise what I had. I’ve been impressed with the level of competition in this series and I had to really keep my concentration in the race once I got to the front because the conditions were difficult and I knew that if I made one mistake, I’d have a real fight on my hands. We definitely have a strong unit here with FF Corse and Ferrari Budapest and now we look ahead to the next round at Le Mans, which will be the highlight of the year and one everyone wants to win at.”
Jack Brown, Graypaul Nottingham, said: “Saturday was more or less perfect with pole, victory, fastest lap and the championship lead, and after I got pole on Sunday, I was expecting even more in Race Two, so it’s a shame it was cancelled as an hour later the weather had cleared up and I’m sure I could have won again. I’m delighted otherwise; the car was quick, the track was nice and there were some good battles, but ultimately we had the fastest package all weekend; even when the rain really came down hard at the end of Race One while I was on slicks! This all gives me a lot of confidence ahead of Le Mans, which I’m so excited about.”
Laurent de Meeus, HR Owen, said: “What an unique and incredible experience of driving in the snow! Hopefully it’s something I’ll never do again, but it’s definitely something I’ll remember and I feel extremely proud to have finished second in those conditions. Otherwise, it took me a little time to find my pace over the weekend and my Race One qualifying just wasn’t good enough. Fortunately with some overnight thinking and coaching from Jamie [Stanley – Driver Coach] and a revised set-up, I found my mojo during Sunday qualifying. I should have been on pole, but I made a mistake on my last lap at Turn 7. I still lead the championship, but only by two points, so I will have to step it up over the next few races. The next one is at Le Mans, so that will be special, whatever the result.”
Tim Mullen, Sporting Manager, said: “It’s been a fantastic weekend; maybe our best ever in the Ferrari Challenge Europe. To come away with wins in both classes in Trofeo Pirelli and a podium in Coppa Shell and to see Jack and Laurent leading their championships and Adam winning on his series debut is Just fantastic and everyone can be extremely proud of the job they’ve done in very difficult conditions. I think we had a good chance of repeating those results in Race Two, even if both our drivers were starting quite far back with the success penalties. As always, a big thank you to HR Owen and Graypaul Nottingham for their support and, for the first time, to Ferrari Budapest, whom we’re delighted to get a win for on our first race together.”