Fabienne Wohlwend completes Ferrari Challenge Season in Style
After the postponed World Finals, Fabienne Wohlwend completed her 2020 season in style and was crowned Vice World Champion, adding a victory and three podiums to her tally. A promising start for the upcoming season.
It was a long 2020 season for Ferrari Challenge: after its traditioanl final event of the season - the World Finals - had been postponed since November 2020, the replacement date finally went underway in Misano last weekend. Travel restrictions certainly reduced the field and the always popular event was held behind closed doors. But it was nonetheless the chance to round out the season and complete all the planned races.
It was a hard-fought qualifying session on Friday, as several drivers logged fast times. Ultimately, it was Thomas Neubauer (Charles Pozzi - Courage) to score pole position, almost ten minutes before the session ended. Second was Florian Merckx (Baron Motorsport), in front of Fabienne Wohlwend (Octane 126) and already-crowned European champion Emanuele Maria Tabacchi (Rossocorsa), who was only fifth on the grid.
A thrilling Race 1 was then about to start: the respective pole-sitters in the Pro and ProAm classes engaged in a tight battle that ended in a collision at Turn 1. Neubauer dropped back into the midfield, while Frederik Paulsen (Formula Racing) lead the field and had to defend from Cooper MacNeil (Ferrari Westlake) - who had managed to take over second place just ahead of Liechtenstein's Fabienne Wohlwend. When MacNeil slowed down, Fabienne was quick to move ahead for second place, P1 in class. She had put extensive pressure throughout the race.
A late Safety Car was deployed for the stricken car of Han Sikkens (HR Owen) who had lost a tyre, and freezed the positions for the remaining four minutes. Paulsen won the race in the AM class, with Fabienne Wohlwend winning the Trofeo Pirelli Pro class.
“I had some problems during the test days, but after changing the car we solved everything, and I am delighted with the result." - commented Fabienne.
"I started from fifth position and managed to recover. After a few laps, I found myself right on the tail of Cooper McNeil. I decided to wait for the right moment, and after a few laps spent studying him, as soon as I saw the opportunity, I passed him on turn 1."
"I hope to continue like this, especially in view of the Finali Mondiali. I love this circuit and cherish so many memories of the races fought in 2018 with Ferrari. They are beautiful memories, but I hope to have better ones starting on Sunday night...”, added the 23-year old driver, who has also claimed her only pole position and podium finish to date in the all-female W Series championship on the Misano track.
On Saturday, the drivers had to deal with rain and a wet track in the morning qualifying, but it was again Neubauer who scored the fastest lap and got to start from pole.
The session was interruped for some minutes when Marco Pulcini (Rossocorsa - Pelling Racing) crashed into the barriers. After the track was cleared, Tabacchi went back on track and improved, finishing the session in P2 ahead of John Wartique (Franchorchamps Motors Luxembourg) and Fabienne Wohlwend.
Race 2 started with a dry track and a heated battle between Neubauer and Tabacchi marked the opening laps. The leading pair were followed by Wartique, while behind him it was Christian Brunsborg (Formula Racing), Florian Merckx and Fabienne, who tried to keep touch with the leading group.
A Safety Car phase halted the action ten minutes into the race following incidents by Claude Senhoreti (Ferrarri of Ft. Lauderdale) and Frederik Paulsen. The Richard Mille pace car bunched up the field again, with the drivers ready to restart.
At the green flag, Fabienne passed Merckx and both caught up with the leading trio just in time for the final lap.
Neubauer won again the race, but Wartique, Tabacchi and Wohlwend kept swapping positions until the final corner - with the better end for Wartique ahead of Fabienne, who scored the final podium spot.
The World Final saw again an action packed battle between Neubauer, Merckx, Wohlwend, MacNeil and Tabacchi. The fight was soon paused when in the mid-field several collisions required the intervention of the Safety Car, in a lengthy interruption.
Paulsen and Matús Vyboh (Scuderia Praha) were forced to retire, while Brunsborg was penalized with a drive-through which dropped him back the order.
The Trofeo Pirelli Pro group stayed close together though, with Neubauer leading ahead of Merckx. Fabienne and MacNeil fought for the last podium position.
It was Neubauer to cross the finish line first, but at the end of the race he would be disqualified for technical irregularities. That meant that the victory and the world title was handed to Belgian Florian Merckx, with Fabienne Wohlwend inheriting second place in the race and in the championship standings.
"The weekend was simply amazing", wrote Fabienne at the end of the World Finals race meeting. "It felt so good to be back in the car. I couldn't think of a better way to end/start the season."
The new season will start from 10th to 11th April in Monza.