After a month long hiatus, the APAC series of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli is back in its fourth round at the Sepang International Circuit. As you might expect, Sepang is a track with many unforeseen variables, especially so the weather. Heat and humidity is always an element that can rarely ever be predicted, and this makes an interesting feature for spectators as it affects the cars, drivers, and supporting pit crew as they tackle a unique problem on a demanding circuit.
Qualifying took place on Friday, and the final line-up consisted of twenty-eight 458 Challenge cars. The race consists of two categories – Trofeo Pirelli and Coppa Shell; basically Class A and Class B made up of semi-professional and gentlemen drivers. The race consists of two rounds, and promised plenty of action (and drama!) unfolding on track. This was certainly the case, as there were some spectacular crashes during both races.
The first race saw some familiar faces coming out tops: in the Trofeo Pirelli category, Philippe Prette (Italy) emerged victorious, followed by Pasin Lathouras (Thailand) and Philip Ma (Hong Kong). In the Coppa Shell, victory went to Francis Hideki Onda (Japan), with Gregory Teo (Singapore) and Eric Cheung (Canada) coming in second and third respectively. The second race ended in a win for Pasin Lathouras (Thailand) with Philippe Prette (Italy) and Motoaki Ishikawa (Japan) second and third respectively for Trofeo Pirelli category, after running competitively throughout the race. In the Coppa Shell, the top step of the podium went to Jacky Yeung (Hong Kong), who beat Eric Cheung (Canada) and Alex Au (China, Hong Kong) to the chequered flag.
NAZA Racing team made a return to the race series last year after a long hiatus and with driver Erwin Azizi behind the wheels, managed to land 2nd position on the podium in the Coppa Shell category.It was a momentous occasion for sure, made sweeter by the fact that it was the first time the series was held in Malaysia. This year, however, NAZA Racing was represented by veteran driver Angelo Negro from Italy who competed in the Trofeo Pirelli category. Car No. 48 was the only Malaysian team that took part in the challenge this year, and competes with 11 other teams from Italy, France, Australia, Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Following the race in Sepang, the fifth round of the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli will be held at the Marina Bay circuit, Singapore. The Ferrari one-make championship will run as a supporting event to the Singapore Formula 1 Grand Prix on 23rd September.