Manuela Gostner narrowly misses out on podiums at Silverstone
Manuela Gostner showed impressive pace and was the protagonist of some highly spectacular passes in her charging races at Silverstone, scoring two very solid fourth places in Ferrari Challenge Shell Cup that gained the Italian fourth place in the championship standings.
Manuela Gostner's return to Ferrari Challenge this year has been a performance crescendo; from her first podium at Circuit Paul Ricard, to an equally strong weekend in Hungary - before the less lucky round of Hockenheim, where she nevertheless scored a solid amount of points. Having raced in both ELMS and WEC, the driver from South Tyrol brought all her experience to the Ferrari one-make series' Shell Cup, where Manuela races alongside her father Thomas and sister Corinna in a family effort at MP Racing. At the fifth round of the championship, Manuela headed to the fast and technical Silverstone circuit, legendary home of British motor racing, with the aim of returning to the podium. And, pace-wise, she could certainly have achieved the goal - but a couple of unlucky events resulted in two fourth place finishes. The weekend was initially off to a great start, as Gostner was second in free practice and third in the first qualifying on Saturday. Axel Sartingen shared an all-German front row of the grid with Franz Engstler, while Gostner lined up alongside Alexander Nussbaumer, also leading the Shell-Am class. At lights out, the top three positions were unchanged and pulled away; Manuela's sister Corinna had a great start and was up to P7 from eleventh on the grid. Also American Lisa Clark, racing for Ferrari of Beverly Hills, moved up two places and slotted into P16. With Franz Engstler putting pressure on the pole sitter Sartingen, Manuela Gostner took advantage of their scraps to close in and, when Engstler found a way past with 14 minutes to go, Manuela would also quickly seize the opportunity to grab second place. While initially faster, Manuela Gostner couldn't pull away and was again under pressure from Sartingen in the final minutes. With Engstler now 10 seconds up the road, Gostner was under attack at Brooklands and spun on the final lap, which cost her both second and third place. Axel Sartingen and Roman Ziemian completed the podium, with Manuela fourth across the finish line. Corinna Gostner had a really strong race and, despite losing a few positions midway through the competition when she dropped behind Scheltema and Simmerson, she could get back into the top-10 when she kept her cool and navigated through some heated battles that saw Richter and Patel also making contact. She was eighth overall, sixth in class. Lisa Clark was less lucky, as gearbox issues hampered her first race which she ultimately finished in 17th place - ninth in Shell-Am.
Sunday's qualifying proved to be a bit more challenging for Manuela Gostner, who was eleventh - alongside her sister Corinna - on the starting grid.
Franz Engstler, winner of Race 1, missed out on pole position, as Roman Ziemian took off from pole ahead of Sartingen.
Engstler, though, was able to snatch second from his Sartingen at the start and immediately hunted down Ziemian: he would gain the lead on lap 2.
But arguably the star of the second race was Manuela Gostner, who charged through the field, moving into P8 on the first lap.
A tyre puncture in qualifying had resulted in a start from the back - but Lisa Clark had already gained a few spots when, unfortunately, an accident on the second lap terminated her race prematurely. A contact with Frascaro ended both the drivers' race and, when Andreas König spun on the fluid lost by Frascaro's car, race control deployed the Safety Car.
In a matter of two laps, Manuela Gostner had already climbed to sixth and, after the neutralization, she resumed her exciting podium chase.
Manuela passed her father Thomas at the restart and, showing unmatched pace, she attacked Fons Scheltema around the outside at Stowe.
The outstanding move, unfortunately, would cost her a 5 second penalty, as stewards deemed her guilty of having exceeded track limits at the exit of Stowe.
Now in clean air, though, Gostner soon caught up with Axel Sartingen and passed the driver of the #178 Ferrari with another amazing pass at Club corner.
After a really positive first half of the race Corinna Gostner - again steadily in the top-ten - retired on lap 8 as she hit trouble and tumbled down the order.
Ahead, Franz Engstler built a safe margin and won preceding Roman Ziemian. Despite setting some very fast laps in the final 4 minutes as she tried to extend her gap in anticipation of the penalty, Manuela Gostner crossed the finish line in third place but missed out of her deserved podium by 2 seconds.
Nevertheless, thanks to a streak of solid results, Manuela Gostner now sits fourth place in the Shell Cup championship standings, 16 points behind Ziemian and 55 points to championship leader Franz Engstler.
The next round will be held at Mugello, on 7-9 October, before the Ferrari World Finals at Imola on 26-30 October.