At the Ferrari single-brand championship's second round at circuit Paul Ricard, Doriane Pin and Manuela Gostner got into some great battles that delivered podium finishes in the Pirelli and Shell classes.
A hot and sunny Circuit Paul Ricard, home soil for Doriane Pin, hosted the second race weekend of the Ferrari Challenge Europe season, with some of the most thrilling races that the championship provided so far.
Doriane Pin (Scuderia Niki Iron Lynx) came into the weekend as championship leader, having won both previous races in Portimao in dominant fashion. Pin immediately showed her incredible pace in the free practice sessions on Friday, topping the timesheets in the Trofeo Pirelli - just like Manuela Gostner (CDP - MP Racing) did, with her new colorful livery, in the Coppa Shell class. Corinna Gostner (CDP - MP Racing), who had a very unlucky weekend in Portugal, set promising times, following her sister's footprints. Also, back in the European series, was American Lisa Clark, racing for Ferrari Beverly Hills - in what is a double campaign on the two sides of the Atlantic for the driver of the #130 Ferrari.
RACE 1 - TROFEO PIRELLI
Doriane's debut in Portimao was perfect: after grabbing pole position in both qualifying sessions, she won race 1 and race 2 leading every lap and setting the fastest lap. To confirm her ability, she had to replicate at Paul Ricard what she had already done - and she didn't disappoint.
Qualifying #1 saw Pin taking pole position by only setting one timed lap, in a show of force that put her almost a second clear of anyone else on track. As soon as the lights went out in Race 1 she battled with Adrian Sutil, former Formula 1 driver, and took the lead of the race, increasing her gap lap by lap.
Around lap 11, she suffered a puncture and was forced to return to the pits to change the blown tyre, losing significant time and losing all the gap of over 10 seconds that she had managed to open over second placed Sutil. Luck definitely wasn't on her side as she came out of the pits in 14th position overall and had little time to gain all the lost positions back.
While the finish result certainly did not represent her speed, she once again had proven to be the fastest driver on track.
"[It was a] very good second round at Paul Ricard. We had a very good pace throughout the weekend. I was able to take pole position in qualifying 1. Dominating all of race 1, I had a puncture which cost me the victory" - Doriane said.
RACE 2 - TROFEO PIRELLI
Sunday morning's qualifying round wasn't the easiest one for Doriane, as she was frustratingly stuck in traffic. The 13th spot on the grid was the best she could do, so Race 2 was going to be a challenging one.
As soon as lights went out, she managed to avoid the mess in front of her, which saw lots of cars crashing and spinning, allowing her to gain three positions. Safety Car was then deployed and freezed the race positions. After ten minutes, regular racing was able to resume and it was showtime for Pin.
In every lap that went by, she overtook car after car until 5th place, until she had to close a 5 second gap, which seemed really difficult as the race was near its end. Contrary to what everyone thought, Pin was able to catch up with Ange Barde and gained 4th place.
She didn't stop there, as she overtook Luka Nurmi during the last lap, gaining third position and podium finish after a thrilling finale.
"13 overtakings made to finish 3rd!" - Doriane commented. "It's a weekend full of learning, which will be beneficial for the rest of the season.
I would like to thank the whole team, the public and all the other people who support me.”
Even if this weekend surely wasn't what the young French driver expected in terms of points, she still managed to minimize damage. “Doriane did a mega job to come back after being under some pressure in the qualifying session, and overall, this is a big learning experience for her going forward." Iron Lynx's team principal Andrea Piccini said.
RACE 1 - COPPA SHELL
The two super fast sisters Manuela and Corinna Gostner found good results in Portimao that showed their potential and their skills. During the first qualifying session in Le Castellet, Manuela claimed the 5th position, while Corinna was 14th fastest. As soon as the green flags were waved and the safety car entered back the pits to let the race start, both did an amazing job, Manuela maintaining her position, Corinna gaining two positions. Clark was 14th in the Shell-Am class, 28th overall.
Unfortunately, in the final rows, a huge crash occurred and the safety car was deployed. After ten minutes under caution, the race resumed and saw Manuela taking advantage and gaining some positions thanks to the big battles between the cars in front of her, that allowed the former WEC and ELMS racer to overtake when no one expected her to do so.
From the restart to the end of the race, Corinna battled with Fons Scheltema (Kessel Racing) for 11th position. She continued to make up positions, but during the last laps, she made a mistake that cost some places and finished 15th.
Manuela, just like her sister, kept gaining positions and during the last lap overtook Johnny Laursen, crossing the finish line in 4th position.
Lisa Clark kept it clean and was 11th in the Shell-Am category.
RACE 2 - COPPA SHELL
Race 2 saw an amazing performance by Manuela Gostner, who qualified second, claiming her first front row start in the series. She had a great start, holding her position while trying to take the lead of the race.
Corinna qualified 14th, just like on Saturday, and gained three positions at race start that allowed her to battle until the end for points-paying positions. After a risky move with Alex Fox (Team Zenith) she lost several positions and unfortunately ended the race in 15th position. Even if she's been unlucky during the first two rounds of the Ferrari Challenge Europe championship, we know she'll have her redemption.
Manuela, on the other hand, maintained her position throughout the whole race and during the last laps she began to attack the race leader Johnny Laursen. At one point, she had managed to make the move stick and led the race, but Laursen switched back.
Unfortunately, a safety car period during the last two laps compromised her winning chances as it prevented her from responding for victory. She did an awesome job and claimed her first podium of the season, crossing the line in second place - and set the fastest lap of the race.
"I'm really happy to be back on the podium in Race 2, after getting so close in the first race" - commented Manuela. "MP Racing gave me a super competitive car and Le Castellet is a racetrack that I really like", she told us.
From 13th on the grid, Lisa Clark battled in the midfield of the Shell-Am class throughout the race and finished tenth, scoring a very encouraging top-ten in class.
This weekend brought a lot of challenges to the female drivers of the Ferrari one-make series, but they showed to be even stronger than adversities. Ferrari Challenge Europe will be back on track in Hungary in mid June.