2011 North American Ferrari Challenge Series Continues at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

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Photography by: Ferrari S.p.A.
Ferrari 458 Challenge at the track front view
Ferrari 458 Challenge at the track front view Source Ferrari S.p.A.
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The 2011 North American Ferrari Challenge Series continues with the second race of its 18th season at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the legendary track set against the picturesque backdrop of the Monterey Peninsula, California.

Spectators are welcome to attend the race, and enjoy paddock areas and overall Ferrari-festival atmosphere.  Tickets are now available through the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca website ( www.MazdaRaceway.com ) or by calling the Ticket Office at (800) 327-7322 or (831) 242-8269, 8am - 5pm PST, Monday – Friday.

Adding to the excitement at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the Corse Clienti Department's 599XX, FXX and F1 Clienti programs will also participate on the track.  Further, the Ferrari F430 Challenge will compete alongside its successor, the new Ferrari 458 Challenge. 

For the first time in North America this season, the Ferrari Historic Race - Trofeo Shell will also be held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.   This series is eligible only to Ferraris that have received the Certificate of Authenticity or Attestation for Vehicle of Historic Interest and have a FIA Historic Technical Passport (HTP).  Also eligible are Ferraris originally designed for road use that were raced in competition at the time of their sale; documentation supporting that these cars weren't built specifically for competition use is also required.  Such vehicles must be in their original configuration with the exception of changes made to comply with FIA safety requirements.  All vehicles participating in the Ferrari Historic Race – Trofeo Shell are divided into various competing categories, although they race together from the same grid.

Judging from the intense competition at the 2011 North American Ferrari Challenge Series opener at Infineon Raceway (April 29-May 1), this second race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will be no less exhilarating for drivers and spectators alike.

At Infineon Raceway, taking to the spectacular track for a few sessions were four F1 Clienti cars, three Ferrari FXX and no less than seven 599XX, driven by owners involved in the eponymous programs.  A special guest at the event was Marc Gene, who was in attendance as a tutor to the F1 owners.  Also part of this special weekend were over one hundred and twenty Ferrari owners who were able to put themselves to the test at the wheel of their cars as part of the "Excitement on Track" program.

This first round of the 2011 North American Ferrari Challenge Series featured twenty-seven cars on track, on this the maiden outing of the 458 Challenge, for two races alongside the 430 Challenge. On Saturday, Scott Tucker (Boardwalk Ferrari) won Race 1 at the wheel of the new sports car, ahead of Enzo Potolicchio (Ferrari of Fort Lauderdale) and Cooper MacNeil (Ferrari of Houston.) Of those driving the 430 Challenge, first place went to Christopher Ruud (Ferrari of Silicon Valley) followed home by Rob Metka and Guy LeClerc, both entered by Ferrari of Fort Lauderdale. In Race 2, Enzo Potolicchio emerged victorious, ahead of Harry Cheung (Ferrari of Silicon Valley) and Cooper MacNeil, with Rob Metka best of the F430 Challenge runners, outpacing Ryan Ockey (Ferrari of Ontario) and Guy LeClerc.

Ferrari 458 Challenge at the track side view

The new 458 Challenge is based on the spectacular Ferrari 458 Italia, and introduces a number of important modifications to adapt it for competition use.  While the direct injection 4497 cc V8 remains strictly in production tune, modifications have been made to the gear ratios and calibration of its dual-clutch F1 gearbox to guarantee higher torque at lower revs.  Significant work has also gone into cutting the car's weight, focusing on both the interior and exterior with Ferrari's engineers concentrating in particular on reducing the thickness of bodyshell panels and on using lightweight materials such as carbon-fiber and Lexan. 

The 458 Challenge also has a specific suspension set-up, and rides on 19-inch racing rims on Pirelli racing slicks and a ride height lowered by 30mm all around.  Together with the new generation Brembo CCM2 brakes which debuted on the 599XX, a new ABS system, and the adoption of the F1-Trac traction control system (the first in a Ferrari Challenge model), Ferrari's engineers have managed to improve the 458 Challenge's lap time at Fiorano (1'16.5") by two seconds over that of its predecessor, the F430 Challenge.  Equally impressive is the lateral grip of the 458 Challenge – up to 1.6G.

Regarded as the longest-running of its type in North America, the Ferrari Challenge Series offers Ferrari owners the opportunity to compete against each other at world-class venues throughout the U.S. and Canada.  Following this race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the 2011 Ferrari Challenge Series will continue to Montreal, Canada, (during the Canadian F1 Gran Prix), June 10-12; Toronto, Canada, July 8-10; Lime Rock Park, CT, July 29-30; concluding at Homestead Miami Speedway, FL, September 23-25.

The Ferrari Challenge Series is organized by Ferrari North America, Inc., and is sanctioned by the Grand American Road Racing Association.  Complete Challenge information can be found on www.ferrarichallenge.com



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