Two second Places in a row for Fabienne Wohlwend
Updated: Aug 7
Fabienne Wohlwend was back for some more racing in the Ferrari Challenge Europe, as the series returned to Portimão. With two second place finishes, Wohlwend tried to catch up with championship leader Emanuele Maria Tabacchi.
After the first two rounds in Italy and Spain, the Ferrari Challenge Europe hit the track at Portimão, Portugal, six years after its last visit - behind closed doors and without spectators this time, but with Florian Merckx and John Wartique as series returnees.
Championship leader Tabacchi dominated the first qualifying session and scored pole position easily ahead of Merckx and Wartique.
Wohlwend, who had troubles following the explosion of a rear brake-disc in free practice, finished with the 6th fastest time.
It was all set for a another Tabacchi win, but after an exciting start, the Italian collided with his closest follower Meckx as he tried to defend his lead.
While Merckx retired, Tabacchi was able to limp back to the pits to fix his car's damaged rear-end. He rejoined the race one lap behind to score potentially important points and managed to sign the fastest lap of the race.
Wartique and Olivier Grotz, both in first position in their respective classes, battled for the lead in the overall ranking. Behind them, Matúš Výboh and Frederik Paulsen battled for their respective positions.
Meanwhile, Tabacchi kept lapping with record-breaking times and tried to make the best out of his first Portimão race.
Grotz passed Wartique for the lead but, on lap 12, the Belgian switched back. Right behind was Paulsen, who pushed hard with his 10 seconds time penalty in mind.
At the chequered flag, Wartique won race 1 comfortably, right ahead of Grotz and Výboh. Fabienne Wohlwend finished 4th overall and 2nd in class.
"We had a lot of technical problems during the tests yesterday [Friday] and also this morning [Saturday], it was hard in qualifying and in the race, so I'm really happy to be back on the podium and to collect some important points for the championship" - commented Fabienne after her first race on the Algarve circuit.
After a disappointing race on Saturday, Tabacchi was again the fastest driver in the second qualification. He took pole position ahead of Merckx and Wohlwend.
Tabacchi had the better start and pulled away quickly. The best starter, though, was Wartique who advanced from P9 to P4 in overall standings. Starting second on the grid was Merckx, but he dropped back after a contact.
But there was more bad luck for Mercks, as he was penalized for a jump start - as the same fate awaited Wartique. Both drivers were given a drive-through penalty and, in addition, Merckx was also handed a five-second time penalty for having crossed the blend line outside the pit lane during his drive-through.
Meanwhile, Tabacchi extended his lead over Fabienne Wohlwend and crossed the finish line with a 10-seconds gap from the driver from Liechtenstein, who took the chequered flag in second overall and in class. Third was Paulsen in the overall standings and Wartique in the Pro class.
"The race weekend didn't start really well, so it's great to be back on the podium." - said Wohwlend. "I was struggling in the beginning and then I just had too big of a gap to catch him [Tabacchi] in the end."
Furthermore, in Sunday's second race of the Coppa Shell class, the other female racer Corinna Gostner claimed her first ever podium in the series.
After the Portimão round, Tabacchi (90) has a 20 points lead over Fabienne Wohlwend (70), followed by Thomas Neubauer (45), who was not competing in Portugal.
For its next round, the Ferrari Challenge Europe championship will hit the track in Mugello from 28th to 30th August.