Treble win for FF Corse at GT Cup finale

FF Corse ended the GT Cup season with a magnificent treble victory for the Ferrari 488 Challenge of Graham and Dan de Zille at Snetterton last weekend.

The pair mastered ever-changing track conditions across the two-day event to end a remarkable season second in the GTC points and with the Driver of the Weekend award shared between them.

Dan gave notice of his intent to dominate the class on Saturday morning by topping practice and qualifying and then drove to a comfortable win in the opening sprint race; 13 seconds clear of his nearest rival.

He and Graham then combined to win the afternoon enduro; benefitting from a success penalty at their pitstop that was five seconds shorter than their key rivals, and revelling in the damp conditions in which Dan has become acknowledged as a master.

The younger de Zille delivered an even more impressive overall pole position by over 1.8 seconds from his nearest rival on Sunday in the damp conditions, despite a split water hose causing their session to end early.

As the weather improved by race time, Dan – his car repaired in double-quick time by the FF Corse mechanics – was powerless to prevent the GTOs passing him, but still finished second overall and 21s clear of his nearest GTC rival.

That class win was the eighth for the de Zilles since they switched from the Ferrari 458 Challenge they began the season with, to the newer 488. Nobody else in GTC has triumphed on more than five occasions in the same time period.

Second place in GTC Sunday’s enduro, after what Graham described as a ‘scrappy drive’ was the 26th podium finish from the 27 races the pair have contested in 2019.

Not only did this secure them second place in the GTC Championship, it also left them fourth in the overall end-of-season rankings and helped FF Corse seal third in the overall Teams’ Championship, despite having run just a single car for the final two events.

All the more remarkable was that for both drivers, 2019 marked a comeback season after a major layoff; Dan having last raced in 2012 and Graham returning to racing after a 27-year-layoff.

Graham de Zille said: “I’m very happy with the way the weekend’s gone and three wins out of four is a great way to end our comeback season. Daniel did a fantastic job in the wet, just like he always does, and was three seconds clear in Sunday practice, but once it tried it was impossible to keep the GTO cars behind as they began to stretch their legs. The lads at FF Corse did a fantastic job to fix the car after our issue in Sunday qualifying, and the car never skipped a beat in the race. I made a couple of mistakes in the Sunday enduro and that probably cost us the clean sweep, but I’m happy anyway.”

Dan de Zille said: “It’s been another great weekend and to end the year with eight wins since switching to the 488 is more than Dad or I could have hoped for because we’d both been away from racing so long. The car really is a joy to drive and in the damp we can really take some scalps against the more powerful GTOs, which aren’t as nimble as the Ferrari in the twisty bits. It was fun dicing with those guys because our cars had different bits of the track where we were quick. And to cap it all we got to share the Driver of the Weekend I wish the season wasn’t over.

Mark McLoughlin, Team Principal, said: “I’m so pleased that Graham and Dan have had such a successful return season after a long time out of racing. It was obvious from the start of the GT Cup season that neither had lost the knack and the switch to the 488 has made them contenders for race wins at every round. It’s been a good season for us and we’ve sealed second and third places in the GTC points with Graham and Dan, and Laki Christoforou and Adam Carroll, and comfortably won more races than anyone else in our class. A big thank you to every member of our team for the work they’ve put in this year.”