FF Corse are very excited to be attending this years Supercar Driver Secret Meet.
The Secret Meet is a celebration of motoring like no other, with 1,000+ Supercar owners, track demontrations including the Ignition GP F1 demo and a £100,000,000 Hypercar parade.
Find us in Garage 21 where you can check out the cars we have on display and chat to us to find out how we can help you achieve your Ferrari driving ambitions. We will be running a simulator competition (Tuesday only) – fastest time of the day wins a bottle of champagne and 2 tickets to Ferrari Racing Days at Silverstone, 1st – 3rd September 2023.
Round 4 of Ferrari Challenge Europe took place at the legendary Circuit de la Sarthe, in support of the Le Mans 24 hour race. This was an incredible opportunity for our drivers to race Le Mans circuit, with a total of 71 Challenge cars from all around the globe.
The chances to race at Le Mans are few; saved only for the annual 24 hour race, the Le Mans Classic or featuring in a support race to the 24 hours, as we were. There is no option to conduct testing as the circuit is largely set out on the local roads of the town. Circuit de la Sarthe is the pinnacle of motorsport – a dream for any racer and a mecca to motorsport fans worldwide. It’s a special event to witness and a true privilege to drive.
Free practice on Wednesday and Thursday started out very strong for both drivers, who quickly adapted to the circuit, with Tom topping the timesheets both days and James a very respectable 13th in class (26th overall) from the 71 cars field.
As qualifying begun on Friday morning, the team was hopeful for pole given Tom’s pace in free practice and despite improving on his times he finished P3 overall. Tom was hoping for more, but as with so many of the qualifying sessions this season, yellow flags and slow zones meant he couldn’t hook a clean lap together and ultimately a red flag ended the session early.
James qualified a solid 16th in class (32nd overall) but was frustrated to not get a clean lap in too and being blocked by a slower car ahead. Clearly there was more out there for both but luck wasn’t on our side.
As the 71 Ferrari 488 Challenge Evos passed through the Ford Chicane to take the start of the race, it was almost inevitable there would be incidents throughout the 35 minute race, so capitalising on the start was crucial. James didn’t waste any time, with a fantastic first lap he made up 5 places showing his superior speed and racecraft over those around him. Tom had a less fortunate start, getting squeezed into turn one to drop to P4.
Lap two and as predicted, safety car. A large incident lower down the field littered debris over the track and heavily damaged the Armco barriers. Ultimately, too much damaged to be repaired and send the race green again. The safety car came in with just one racing lap left but a slow zone remained in place for the damaged barrier. This didn’t give Tom any opportunity to fight back for a podium place, finishing P4. Although James did manage to pick up another place to finish a superb 10th in class and 16th overall.
Tom said, “what a privilege to race here at Le Mans – it’s such a special event. I felt we lacked a bit of top end speed compared to our rivals but it’s something we can work on moving onto Estoril next month. I’ve had an amazing week”. James commented “This is the best circuit ever. It’s amazing and I can’t believe I’ve just raced at Le Mans. An incredible weekend I will cherish forever.”
Tom and James sit P2 and P8 in their respective classes for the championship. The team is proud of what they have achieve so far and the results are quite incredible given they are both in their rookie seasons.
Next up, Estoril – 14th and 15th July. Stay tuned!
Ferrari Challenge Europe headed to Austria’s Spielberg circuit a few weeks ago, for the season’s third round. Between the Tropheo Pirelli and Coppa Shell classes, over 50 Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo cars lined up on the grid for what was a thrilling weekend in very changeable conditions.
While other competitors had the benefit of multiple days testing, diary clashes resulted in both Tom and James having had no running prior to the weekend. Less than ideal, but both are always able to quickly learn a new circuit, pick up the skills required and provide essential feedback to the team.
James put in a very impressive qualifying result, putting him 6th in class on the grid for the start of race one. He felt like he had more to give and we were certain this may be his time to pick up his first podium. Having to take avoiding action into turn one at the start, James dropped back 4 places, sadly making a podium unlikely this time. The ‘comeback king’ was on fine form and managed to pull off a series of impressive manoeuvres, the last of which was on the last corner of the last lap to bring him home to finish 5th in the PRO-AM class.
Tom qualified 4th on the grid and managed to steer clear of the first corner incident which forced the pack to scatter to avoid a spinning car. Tom came out the other side of the chaos in P3, and soon managed to build a gap between himself and P4. Another podium and great points haul for Tom’s championship fight in the PRO class.
Following the race, Tom said “It was a tough race, especially for tyre management. Apart from a small collision, I made a good start. In general, I think I can say that the race was challenging for everyone, especially to not exceed the track limits and, because of this, our times were a little higher than usual. Anyway, it’s a positive day, with more points won for my team.”
James again qualified 6th in the PRO-AM class for race 2, perhaps now he can bag a podium place… Tom also repeated his race 1 qualifying performance, starting P4. Qualifying, as is now a theme of this years’ championship, was plagued by yellow flags and stoppages, ultimately cutting short both Tom and James’ session with both feeling they could have extracted more from the session.
The heavens opened for race 2, and James started the race from P6 in class but he dropped a few places initially. However, he skillfully picked his way through the pack to return with another 5th place in the PRO-AM class.
Tom made an excellent start from 4th on the grid, immediately making up a place round the outside of the first corner to put himself ahead of former Formula One driver, Adrian Sutil. Tom pushed hard to gain on the car in P2 when the safety car came out due a car in the gravel. On the restart, Tom was again challenging for P2 but try as he may, he couldn’t find a way past. Tom then came under pressure from Sutil, after doing a sterling job to hold him off for several laps, Sutil eventually managed to pass Tom. In the closing stages of the race, Tom kept his tyres fresh and mounted an attack on Sutil to reclaim third. But he just couldn’t quite find a way past to secure that final podium place, so had to settle for 4th. A fantastic performance against a vastly more experienced driver!
James, in his first ever season of racing, currently sits equal 6th in the PRO-AM class, and Tom P2 in the PRO class in his first season of ‘big car’ racing. The fight is on and next up, Le Mans!
Tom Fleming takes his maiden win in Trofeo Pirelli in Misano, and James Owen achieved a personal best result of 4th in the P-AM class and 8th overall.
The weekend got off to a solid start with Tom qualifying P2 on the Saturday, just 0.6 seconds off the pole sitter, and James qualifying 5th in P-AM.
In race one, James dropped down to 15th overall in the early stages of the race, but worked his way back up to cross the line in 12th. Importantly though, he kept his lines clean meaning that he steered clear of any track limit penalties, which were being picked up by many competitors throughout the race. This meant that once all penalties had been applied to other drivers, James was promoted to 8th overall and 4th in P-AM. Just one place off a podium finish! Despite James’ relative inexperience compared to his competitors, he is starting to bring back some impressive results, impressing the team and the championship with his pace. Regular podium finishes won’t be far away!
After dropping back to third position at the start, the pole sitter Donno started to break away at the front from Tom. An incident further back in the field on the first lap brought out the safety car closing the field back up again, but Donno pulled away at the front again once the safety car had pulled back into pitlane. It didn’t take long for Tom to make a superb move on Kral to retake second place. Donno had snuck a 3.6 second advantage but with Tom’s consistency and race craft, he managed to quickly close the gap up to 0.6 seconds. Tom put immense pressure on the leader who, by the end, was handed a post-race 5 second penalty for exceeding track limits. Donno was demoted to second place, so Tom took the top step of the podium!
Following the race, Tom said “I don’t think words can describe how I feel, it’s just an amazing achievement for me and the team. I stepped into my first race car 10 months ago and I have really been trying to build back the sort of experience that these guys at the front have. We absolutely deserve this after a shaky qualifying. I knew in my mindset that I’d got a chance to win this race and we executed it perfectly. I’d like to thank the team – FF Corse, my sponsors – HR Owen and Alvarez & Marsal, and most importantly my family because I could not have done it without them.”
On Sunday, the qualifying results for Tom and James were a carbon copy of Saturday’s qualifying, but Tom got away well at the start of race two and maintained second position. The gap to first opened up in the early stages, but again Tom’s superior race management allowed him to close back up to Donno, again piling on the pressure. Tom’s race pace meant the overtake to P1 was inevitable. The gap came down to just 0.6 seconds when Donno crashed out of the lead with just 6 minutes remaining, meaning Tom brought the car home in a fantastic first place!
James produced another impressive comeback drive, finishing a solid 6th in P-AM after a battling for position with Gostner and Del Favero. Highly entertaining to watch!
Despite taking the top step of the podium unfortunately, due to a non-performance related technical infringement, Tom was cruelly stripped of his second win. But this does not take away from the fantastic performance that he put in on track – the team are incredibly proud of everything that he has already managed to achieve in such a short space of time, against far more experienced drivers.
The next round is at Spielberg in Austria, 13th and 14th May. Watch this space!
The opening round of the Passione Ferrari Challenge Edition took place at Snetterton last weekend, alongside Ferrari Challenge UK. The event was a great success for us, with a total of six test drives in our white 488 Challenge Evo. Each test driver had 45 minutes on track with a professional driver coach, Miguel Faísca, alongside them to ensure they got the most out of their session – check out the glowing brake disks!
We were also running a customer in their own car, who made great progress throughout the six 45 minute sessions on track with Charlie Hollings coaching.
Ferrari customers brought along a fantastic array of cars which were a delight to see in the paddock, the Ferrari hospitality was excellent, and even the weather was kind to us!
The next round is at Oulton Park on 19th & 20th May, please get in touch if you’d like to join us.
Last week we welcomed Supercar Driver into our workshop, and they also joined us trackside for a Silverstone trackday in which we were running four cars. Members enjoyed watching techs working on the cars in the garage and viewing the trackday action from the pit wall. Members also tried their hand on a Blade simuulator, developed by Aston Martin driver and three-time Le Mans winner Darren Turner. Thank you to Base Performance Simulators for providing the sim.
We thoroughly enjoyed meeting some SCD members and it was also a real pleasure to see their stunning collection of cars!