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  • Writer's pictureRACERS

Manuela Gostner secures top-5 in Shell EU race 1 at Imola

In a bittersweet final round of the season, Manuela Gostner had a great first race in Imola, claiming another top-5 to round out her European campaign in the Ferrari one-make series. Her sister Corinna had a clean Race 2 to finish P7 in class - but everything went downhill fast in the World Final for the Gostner sisters, who were both out on the opening lap.

Photo credits: Ferrari Races

It was an important season for Italian racer Manuela Gostner, who returned to the track in Ferrari Challenge - the series that had launched her racing career up the ranks of ELMS, WEC and Le Mans Cup - and she did so with remarkable performances in the Shell Cup, under the banner of MP Racing.

Coached by GT ace Giorgio Sernagiotto, Manuela collected class podiums and had strong qualifying sessions, as she entered the Finali Mondiali in Imola for the final two races of the European campaign - as well as the 30-minute sprint race to risk it all for the 2022 Shell Cup world title.

Race 1

Manuela Gostner qualified in sixth place for Friday's first race, with pole position going to Poland's Roman Ziemian, who preceded Axel Sartingen, Franz Engstler and Thomas Gostner. With a good getaway, Manuela was up to P5, as she found a way around the outside at Turn 1. Her sister Corinna also had a good start and moved into eighth place overall, P7 in the Shell class.

Iron Lynx's Claudio Schiavoni spun at the exit of the tricky Tamburello chicane but managed to rejoin. Gostner was on the hunt for big points and chased her father Thomas in the #161 green Ferrari by MP Racing. As she attempted a move at Rivazza on Lap 2, though, Manuela had to defend from 2021 World Champion Kirchmayr.

Kirchmayer would eventually tumble down the order after a spin through the gravel trap at Tamburello on lap 5.

After a very good first part of the race, unfortunately Corinna Gostner pitted on lap 9, dropping all the way down the field and ultimately retiring with technical issues.

With ten minutes left on the clock, Ashish Patel (Kessel Racing) came to a halt in the grass at Turn 2, requiring the intervention of the safety car.

Manuela Gostner resumed her battle with Thomas Gostner in the final 3 minutes as the race went back to green. Roman Ziemian had a perfect restart and was unchallenged, followed by Franz Engstler and Axel Sartingen.

The Polish racer took victory in race 1, with positions settling over the final laps. Manuela Gostner kicked off her Finali Mondiali weekend with fifth place in the Shell Cup's first race, ahead of Christensen - who also took the top honor in the Shell-Am class - and Fons Scheltema. With a remarkable charge up the field, Claudio Schiavoni was P14 after the first lap drama, eighth in class.

Race 2

Saturday was off to a great start for Manuela Gostner, who qualified P2 in the morning session despite a late red flag that denied her the chance to go for pole position on her final attempt. Unfortunately, it all went wrong as all her lap times were deleted. She would therefore have to start from the pit lane.

As the sun went down over the iconic racetrack along the Santerno river, Franz Engstler had a clean start and cleared the pack, ahead of Kirchmayr and Sartingen. Corinna Gostner got away well from ninth overall and held position, just behind Fons Scheltema.

From the pitlane, Manuela Gostner soon passed Genter, Frascaro and Satchell over the first five laps.

Corinna was also looking strong, but she struggled to find a way past Scheltema and settled in seventh in class. Iron Lynx's Claudio Schiavoni chased the overall podium, as the experienced driver put pressure on Axel Sartingen.

An over-ambitious move at Turn 1 by Paolo Scudieri took out the #169 Ferrari of Paul Rogers. After passing Lindroth, Schumacher and Martson as well, Manuela Gostner was therefore up to P18 - in a charging race that unfortunately saw her not as close as she would have deserved to the front-running positions.

When Fawe picked up a penalty for track limits, Manuela had the chance to close in on P8 in the Shell class. That changed once again with three minutes to go, when Pino Frascaro lost the car at the exit of Villeneuve chicane and made heavy contact with the barrier, triggering the safety car. Manuela Gostner also went around in an unrelated incident, as her progress came undone in the final two minutes of the race.

The race ended behind the pace car - with Franz Engstler securing that final win of the European season. Ernst Kirchmayer was second and Axel Sartingen held off Claudio Schiavoni for the final step of the podium. With P9 overall and seventh in class, Corinna Gostner had a clean race to round out the season, ahead of Sunday's World Final.

Photo credits: Ferrari Races

World Final

On a sunny Sunday morning, Franz Engstler started from pole position, sharing the front row with Axel Sartingen. Manuela Gostner lined up in fifth place, while Corinna was on row 5 - as both sisters started with high hopes of a top ten in the world final.

Unfortunately, all went downhill fast for the Gostner sisters.

Manuela had a stunning start but was soon hit and put on the grass before even getting to Turn 1. She managed to hold on and only lost two positions, while Corinna was out at Turn 1.

Manuela tried to recover at Rivazza, but came together with Fons Scheltema. Both the Gostner sisters were out one lap into the finale.

Engstler stretched his lead over Sartingen and Kirchmayr, while Omar Balkissoon in fourth was the highest placed of the American entries. Kirchmayr received a 5 second penalty for the contact with Manuela at the start, which put his podium position in jeopardy.

Balkissoon remained within the gap needed to get into third until he had to defend from Thomas Gostner, who applied huge pressure in the #161 MP Racing Ferrari. Manuela and Corinna's father made a move stick on lap 11 - but as he also carried a 5 second time penalty for track limits, Kirchmayr's third place was safe once again.

With incredible pace, Franz Engstler took victory in the Shell World Final by over 15 seconds over Axel Sartingen and Ernst Kirchmayr. Thomas Gistner and Omar Balkissoon rounded out the top five. Fons Scheltema made up many positions with a great recovery to finish seventh after the first lap incident.

Despite the unfortunate final, Manuela Gostner had a really positive return season to Ferrari Challenge, marked by two podiums - in Le Castellet and Budapest - and fourth place in the championship standings, totalling 102 points over 7 race weekends.

Photo credits: Ferrari Races



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