FF Corse dominated at Silverstone this weekend, with an invitational entry into GT Cup in the GTC class. The Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo, piloted by Tom Fleming and James Owen cruised home to victory in all four races, in a weekend of mixed conditions, made up of two sprint races and two endurance races.
Fleming and Owen, both in their rookie seasons of car racing, put on a spectacular display of speed and car control, first demonstrated by Owen taking Pole Position on Saturday – his first ever! A brave push lap on slick tyres in damp conditions put the Welshman at the front of the grid for the first sprint race. A rapid start by the championship leading Lamborghini put Owen into P2, but he chased hard, maintained the pressure and closed the gap over the course of the race, surely set to pass before the chequered flag. Before making his move to do so, the Lamborghini slowed up with an issue and Owen passed by to take his maiden victory, only weeks after securing his first ever podium.
Saturday afternoon, a 50-minute pitstop race to be shared by Owen and Fleming saw them start on the second row of the grid. A smooth start by Owen, who held his own in a hard fought battle between the Lamborghini and another 488 Challenge, set the pairing up for the later half of the race for Fleming to take over. A clean and efficient pit stop by the FF Corse crew saw the pairing come out in front, and Fleming cruised home to victory.
Sunday, it was the turn of Fleming for the sprint race. The young Brit, who completed his first ever car race exactly 12 months prior in a Radical SR1, easily placed the car on pole, despite catching another car on track during his push lap.
At the start of the 25 minute sprint race the rain came, but the decision by the team was to remain on slick tyres while others gambled with a late change to wets, banking on further rain. Others made pit stops to wet tyres, unable to make the most of their slick tyres in the greasy conditions. The rival 488 Challenge made a quick start, slipping ahead of Fleming. As both navigated the dampening circuit, Fleming patiently waited for his chance to pass which he did with ease at Copse before pulling away to overall victory, 25 seconds clear of the second place car. A remarkable achievement and display of talent in very difficult conditions.
For the second endurance race of the weekend, Owen took the start for what was now a very wet circuit with the rain continuing to fall. An impressive drive in the conditions, Owen held on to P3, and maintained a consistent gap over his stint before safely handing over to Fleming in the pit stop. Another slick changeover by the team (just 0.6 seconds clear of the minimum pit stop time) put Fleming out in front, where he hunted down the cars in second and first place. Lapping some 10 seconds faster than his rivals in the conditions, Fleming easily passed into second place with a few laps before passing for first place, with time to spare. Fleming crossed the line to take the fourth win of the weekend for FF Corse, a clean sweep of victories in the GTC class. The team has now gathered an impressive 264 races wins.
James Owen remarked, “What a weekend, claiming my first ever, pole position, first race win in the sprint race, then two more wins with Tom in the endurance races. I only just got my first podium at Estoril a few weeks ago. I’d like to thank the team and Tom for an amazing performance.”
Tom Fleming added, “I don’t think we could have had a better weekend, especially as first-timers to the series. To win all four races against a competitive grid and even claim an overall win feels great. I am so proud of the team and my teammate James Owen, as they performed excellently all weekend – it’s a true testament to how far we have come. I’m pretty pleased with how my first year of racing has gone!”
Team Manager of FF Corse Mark Armstrong said, “What an incredible UK race debut for Tom and James, especially as this was their first shared race which included strategy and driver changes. I can’t wait for the next one and to see what else they can do together.”
Ed Barton-Hilton, Development Manager commented, “I’m delighted for the whole team this weekend – a reward for months of hard work. Working with a pairing like James and Tom is an absolute pleasure. They work so well together and with the team. I’m looking forward to the next chapters of their respective journeys.”
A remarkable performance by the team, and by the drivers who are both in their first year of car racing. Next up, it’s back to Ferrari Challenge Europe at Spa Francorchamps, where Fleming sits P2 in the PRO championship class and Owen P4 in the PRO-AM class.