Wednesday – Ferrari Challenge Europe Round 7 Qualifying
In wet conditions, Tom secured double-pole in qualifying by setting the fastest and second-fastest times, meaning he would start from the front of the field for both Thursday’s and Friday’s races. James would start from 15th overall for both races, a solid qualifying result on the 37 car grid.
Thursday – Ferrari Challenge Europe Round 7 Race 1
Again, the Italian weather was not so kind on Thursday although the conditions suited Tom as he managed to get away at the front and open up a gap to second place within a few corners. Unfortunately, the wet weather also caused a few cars to spin; James was tangled up in an incident on the opening lap which prematurely ended his race due to damage. Tom rapidly extended his advantage but this was eradicated again with the appearance of the safety car. Tom made an excellent job of the restart and quickly opened up a gap to second place once again; with just 7 minutes remaining Tom had a 10 second advantage but the safety car was called out again, meaning that Tom’s hard work was undone once more. The safety car pulled in with just 1 lap remaining and it was ex Formula 1 driver Adrian Sutil hot on his tail. After swapping paint for a few corners, Sutil managed to gain the advantage on track and Donno, who had been running in third, followed him through, dropping Tom down to 3rd place.Donno’s points haul was sufficient to seal the drivers’ championship for 2023 meaning Tom finished second overall – a fantastic achievement in his debut season!
Friday – Ferrari Challenge Europe Round 7 Race 2
Determined to put the disappointment of Thursday behind him, Tom once again started from the front of the grid for Friday’s race and pulled out a 7 second lead during the first half of the race. Unfortunately, it was to be his team mate, James, who would bring out the safety car with 13 minutes remaining, after spinning out and becoming beached in the gravel trap. Tom once again found his mirrors full of Adrian Sutil, but he kept calm under the immense pressure and nailed the restart. The race came a slightly bizarre premature end by being red-flagged on the final lap, due to debris on the track which turned out the be banner that had broken loose in the windy conditions. This sealed the win for Tom – a wonderful way to round off the season by standing on the top step of the podium!
Saturday – Finali Mondiali Qualifying and Superpole
Saturday’s Superpole qualifying consisted of two sessions, where the top six from the first session went through to the second session in a bid to set the fastest time. Tom topped the timesheets in the second session, putting him on pole for Sunday’s race. James also put in a sterling effort, qualifying 17th overall on the 37-car grid, and 8th in class.
Sunday – WORLD FINAL
The race got off to a dramatic start with Tom being sandwiched and squeezed down to third position going into the first corner, but he managed to get the switchback and regain the lead coming out of the corner. There were then three separate incidents further down the field, resulting in a total of five cars finding themselves in the gravel or the barriers. Thankfully James made it through unscathed. After a few laps behind the safety car, the red flag was brought out to allow the marshals time to repair the barriers. After 40 minutes in pitlane awaiting the restart, the cars returned to the track behind the safety car once more, and Tom once again managed the restart perfectly to maintain the lead. Unfortunately, shortly afterwards the safety car was called out yet again, meaning the pressure was on for Tom to produce yet another superlative restart, which he did successfully. Whilst all of this was going on, James was putting in a sensational drive to avoid all the chaos occurring around him and climb up to 9th place overall. Astonishingly, with just under 7 minutes remaining, the safety car was brought out for a fourth time. Following yet another perfect restart, Tom had to keep the field behind him for 2 nail-biting laps to the chequered flag. Tom and the team could finally breathe a massive sigh of relief when Tom took the chequered flag to emerge victorious and become Ferrari Challenge World Champion! James put in an incredibly impressive drive to maintain 9th place overall following the restarts, meaning he rounded off his season with a hard-fought 4th in class.
The FF Corse team are incredibly proud of what James and Tom have both achieved in their debut season in car racing, having obtained their race licenses just a matter weeks before the season started. James had no previous racing experience of any sort, and yet he has consistently managed to finish ahead of far more experienced drivers, giving him a really solid foundation to head into the 2024 season with. Tom had raced karts previously, but has quickly adapted to his 488 and shown the motorsport world that he means business.
In our only two appearances at the World Finals, FF Corse has emerged victorious on both occasions! Our previous triumph was in 2019 with Adam Carroll behind the wheel.
We would like to thank the sponsors, our team members and our extended FF Corse family for all their support, and we can’t wait to do it all again next year!