The first qualifying session of Ferrari Challenge’s 30th anniversary season got underway under grey and breezy skies at the Circuit of The Americas. Cooler temperatures and exuberant drivers combined for a rocky start as red flags negated the efforts of the Coppa Shell Am drivers, but skies started to clear and drivers brought their first-race nerves under control as intense qualifying battles raged in nearly every category.
Trofeo Pirelli: Manny Franco (Ferrari of Lake Forest) took his first overall pole position at COTA with a blistering 2m08.316s lap time. After completing Ferrari’s Corso Pilota program last year and participating in his first races in the latter half of the 2021 edition of the championship, Franco has been something of a Cinderella story and has now found success in the series’ highest category. He was followed by fellow newcomer Jeremy Clark (Ferrari of Beverly Hills), who was two tenths adrift and another relative newcomer, 2021 standout Keysin Chen (Ferrari of Beverly Hills) who was a further two tenths off of that.
Trofeo Pirelli AM: It was first-time Ferrari Challenge racer Samantha Tan (Ferrari of Tampa Bay) who claimed her first Ferrari Challenge pole position in her first race in the series at COTA. No stranger to the circuit, needed all of her prior racing expertise to wrest the most out of the Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo and just nudge Brad Fauvre (Ferrari of San Francisco), besting him by just 0.015s. Fellow series newcomer and Corso Pilota graduate Custodio Toledo (The Collection) was just behind them, making the Trofeo Pirelli AM category the closest in the series for today’s qualifying. Toledo was off from Fauvre by a further half-tenth of a second.
Coppa Shell: Frank Chang (Ferrari of Seattle) took an exceptionally strong pole position in his debut Challenge weekend with a 2m09.886s, leading the vastly more experienced Brian Kaminskey (Ferrari of Long Island) by just under a half-second after the 15-minute qualifying session concluded. Another newcomer and fellow Ferrari of Seattle driver Michael Petramalo rounded out the top three but was just over 1 second away from the best time.
Coppa Shell AM: Red flags punctuated the Coppa Shell AM category qualifying session and so the session was abandoned due to a lack of green-flag running. The starting grid for this afternoon’s race will instead be set by practice times from Friday’s sessions. That means that Todd Johnson (Ferrari of Rancho Mirage) will lead the field from pole, followed by Anthony Davis (Continental Autosport) and Dan Cornish (Ferrari of Austin) taking the top three positions.
Stream all the weekend’s action live at: live.ferrari.com