Doriane Pin rounds out European Ferrari Challenge with a win and second place in Imola
9 race victories, 13 podiums, 10 pole positions: Iron Dames' rising star Doriane Pin completed her stellar Ferrari Challenge Europe campaign with another win and a second place in Imola, as she will now focus on the big goal: the world title on Sunday.
Doriane Pin's outstanding rookie season in Ferrari Challenge was already crowned with the 2022 European title three weeks ago at Mugello, where the 18year-old Frenchwoman wrapped up the championship with two third places.
With eight victories in six race meetings, the Iron Dame showed great maturity at Mugello, as she took no unnecessary risks and brought home the big result - succeeding Michelle Gatting as the Pirelli Trophy champion in the Italian one-make series.
Her focus quickly switched to the World Finals - held this weekend at Autodromo Enzo and Dino Ferrari in Imola - where she will aim for the world title in the always challenging single-race on Sunday.
Action at Imola therefore started earlier, with the first qualifying session and first race of the weekend getting underway on Friday. The final two races of the European season will be mostly preparation for the World Finals for Pin, who nevertheless left nothing on the table: in Saturday morning's qualifying, Doriane just about missed out on pole position after her best lap was deleted for track limits, ending third on the grid for the penultimate race of the European season.
Thomas Neubauer clinched pole, ahead of Eliseo Donno, Doriane Pin and Luka Nurmi.
Pin - who had struggled at the rolling starts at Mugello - this time had a great getaway and went alongside Wartique as the pack approached Tamburello. Just ahead of them, Donno and Neubauer went for the same piece of real estate and collided, both ending their race 1 in the gravel as the 31-car field took evasive action.
With a brilliant reaction, Doriane Pin took the lead of the race ahead of Formula Racing's Luka Nurmi and John Wartique (FML D2P), before the Safety Car neutralized the action.
The race went back to green on lap 3; Doriane Pin got away well but Nurmi was able to keep the Frenchwoman at striking distance. The Finn prepared a move at Tosa, but had to back off. The top three then pulled away, as former F1 driver Adrian Sutil couldn't quite keep the pace of Pin, Nurmi and Wartique.
In the Pro-Am class, Christian Brunsborg and Marco Pulcini put on a show for first place in class, as also Ange Barde - European title winner in class - also closed in. The brilliant action unfortunately ended in tears for the Pro-Am rivals, as the three drivers made contact at Rivazza and both Brunsborg and Pulcini ended their race in the gravel.
Barde had gone deep under braking and hit Pulcini, who could do nothing to avoid Brunsborg; the driver of the #2 SF Côte d'Azur Cannes 488 Challenge received a drive through penalty for causing the accident - which promoted Asia-Pacific entries of Imada and Uchida to the top of the Pirelli-Am class.
Luckily for Pin, the race remained green, as the Frenchwoman had built a gap of over one second to Nurmi with a fastest lap.
In the midfield, the Pro-Am Europe and Asia Pacific entries continued to battle in an action-filled competition from first to last lap: positions changed by the second - also due to the time penalties for contacts and track limits.
In the closing stages, Nurmi couldn't challenge Pin - who completed another flawless race to win her ninth race of the season, preceding Luka Nurmi and John Wartique across the finish line.
"The start was pretty good, I took advantage at the first corner and then the pace was quite good." - Doriane said on Friday evening. "Luka [Nurmi] was fast but I'm very happy to have managed everything and I'm happy to win again in Imola."
In an early start for Ferrari Challenge Pirelli Trophy drivers on Saturday, cars hit the track at 08:30 local time for the second qualifying session. The 31 cars on track - including the Pirelli Europe, Pro-Am Europe and the Asia Pacific competitors - made for a crowded session, but Iron Lynx/Iron Dames star Doriane Pin was again in the leading positions when the clock ticked down and times dropped.
Pin was on top of the timing sheets in the final minute, before Eliseo Donno and John Wartique could improve by a few tenths of a second. Doriane, though, still had one push lap to spend and set the fastest sector 1 and 2 overall. Unfortunately, she then found heavy traffic in sector 3 and could not improve her previously-set 1:42.772, which put the #83 pink Ferrari 488 Challenge in third place on the grid.
When the lights went out for the last time of the European season, Doriane Pin found herself in fourth - but she then positioned her car perfectly at the exit at Turn 1, allowing the young Iron Dame to complete a stunning double-pass into the second chicane that promoted her to second.
Eliseo Donno had kept the lead, while Adrian Sutil managed to get ahead of Wartique as well on the first lap, before the Belgian was hit and spun in the gravel by Schoonderwoerd and then had to pit. The leader of the ProAm class was handed a drive through penalty for causing the incident.
Doriane Pin went on the hunt of the race leading Best Lap Ferrari driven by Donno - with the top two pulling away. On lap 5, Doriane dropped a wheel on the gravel and slipped 2 seconds behind Donno, but retained a 6 second margin over Neubauer.
Just like in Race 1, the battles in the midfield - and especially in the top positions in Pro-Am - were nothing short of brilliant. Rosso Corsa's Uchida climbed up to P6 overall and first in the Pro-Am class, preceding Marco Pulcini and Christian Brunsborg.
With 18 minutes to go, the safety car made its appearance on track, after the Asian Pacific entry of Baby Kei lost control over a sausage kerb and got stuck in the gravel at Tamburello.
The green flag waved again with 12 minutes to go and Doriane Pin got closer to Donno after a good restart - but the latter settled into the one second gap after a few laps.
In the final laps, Adrian Sutil attacked Thomas Neubauer, in a very exciting duel for the overall podium; the Frenchman eventually managed to hold on, as the Safety Car neutralized the race with 3 minutes left on the clock for a contact between Zibrandtsen and Rosi.
Unfortunately, the race ended behind the Richard Mille pace car, leaving no final chance to Doriane Pin to challenge Donno for the win. The Iron Dame therefore completed her 2022 European season with a second place finish.
Pin rounded out a sterling campaign with 9 race victories, 13 podiums, 10 pole positions. An impressive progression that now leaves Pocket Rocket - her nickname within the Iron Lynx family - with one more task: putting her hands on the world title in Sunday's World Final.