Ferrari Challenge APAC: The Prette Family Shines in New Zealand


Rain thwarted a start to racing for the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli APAC Round 2 at Hampton Downs yesterday. The 26 drivers were greeted with wild weather when they arrived at the South Waikato motor racing circuit, forcing Race 1 to be postponed to today. However, the rain did clear long enough in the afternoon for the field of Ferrari 488 Challenge cars to complete two qualifying rounds for today’s races.

Hampton Downs is arguably one of the most technically advanced race circuit in the world, with a mix of blind bends and crests which make it a challenging circuit for drivers resulting in lots of action during the races. Fortunately, Sunday’s weather was a great improvement with clearer skies and occasional showers.

Race 1: Trofeo Pirelli

It was heart-warming to see both father and son, Philippe and Louis Prette racing together in the same race, despite under different categories. Prette junior was racing alone in the Pirelli Pro class while his father raced in the Pirelli class. The former led from start to finish and recorded the best lap time in Race-1 with 1:35.467. Coming first in the Trofeo Pirelli class was father, Philippe, who despite starting fourth on the grid managed to power his way to the front of the pack. James Weiland of United States came in second with a gap of 3.557 seconds from Prette and Martin Berry of Australia came in third in what was his maiden podium on the new 488 Challenge car.

Coppa Shell. In the Coppa Shell class, Tanni Hanna from Lebanon took class pole in the first-ever Challenge race in New Zealand, followed closely by Yanbin Xing of China, Tiger Wu of Chinese Taipei and Hidehiko Hagiwara of Japan. The top four positions were incredibly tight in qualifying. In the race, Hanna maintained his advantage, taking class victory with Xing in second place and Hagiwara managed to overtake Wu to come in third.

Coppa Shell AM. David Dicker of New Zealand triumphed in the Coppa Shell AM class despite starting third from pole and managed to hold off Kent Chen of Chinese Taipei and fellow compatriot Grant Baker. Dicker crossed the line first ahead of Evan Mak of Hong Kong, while Baker was placed third. Dicker was also the winner of the Gentlemen Cup while Kanthicha Chimsiri from Thailand took the Ladies’ Cup.

Race 2: Trofeo Pirelli

It was pretty much the same story for the father and son duo in Race-2 with the younger Prette starting in pole position and kept the lead all the way to the finish line, winning in the Pirelli Pro class. Philippe Prette qualified sixth on the grid but was battling wheel to wheel with Alex Au of Hong Kong for second position. However, his handling of the wet track was much more skilful and managed some smooth overtaking manoeuvres to power ahead into first position in his class. Au could only settle for second position while Go Max of Japan came in third. Prette is now top of the table standings followed by Weiland and Rama Danindro of Indonesia.

Coppa Shell. It was a straightforward race in the Coppa Shell class as the drivers kept their positions from pole to finish. Yanbin Xing from China took the win followed by Tani Hanna of Lebanon and Tiger Wu of Chinese Taipei rounding off the podium. Xing’s second position in Race 1 and a win in Race 2 were sufficient to propel him to the top of the table standings. Hanna is second followed by Wu.

Coppa Shell AM. Andrew Moon of South Korea finally found success in Race 2 after a very difficult first race in the Coppa Shell AM class. With a valiant race drive, he started in third position on the grid but managed to overtake two drivers and powered to victory. Grant Baker from New Zealand finished second and Min Xiao from China settled for a third place finish. Baker also captured the Gentlemen Cup while Kanthicha Chimsiri from Thailand took the Ladies’ Cup. Moon’s win has propelled him to the top of the table standings with Dicker in second and Baker in third.

The next round of the Ferrari Challenge Asia Pacific will be held at Shanghai in China from 24th to 27th May.

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Ferrari Challenge is the widest ranging and most envied one-make series in the world. The series was established in 1993 and the events are FIA approved, thus ensuring very high safety standards and excellent organization. The championship was an immediate success: the formula for the event, which insists on participants being dealers or authorized race shops, ensures that cars are very closely matched, thus putting the focus on the drivers. There are three series: Europe, which is the oldest, North America and Asia-Pacific. There are also three categories for each race: Trofeo Pirelli, Trofeo Pirelli Am and Coppa Shell, which includes further classes like the Gentlemen Cup, for drivers over 55, and the Ladies Cup for women (available in Europe and Asia). The races are usually very close, which is the main appeal of this series, but drivers also get to enjoy driving on some of the most famous tracks in the world. All three series have excellent schedules, with races at Monza, Mugello and Silverstone in Europe; Laguna Seca, Montreal and Austin in North America; and Melbourne, Shanghai and Fuji in Asia. This year the car used will be the Ferrari 488 Challenge, the first turbo car created for the one-make series.