Austin, 14 May, 2016 – A vast array of tumultuous weather played in conjunction with the racing action seen at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, in the first race of the weekend. Between sunshine with deep blue skies, then to the dark ominous clouds that unleashed a downpour of rain, flooding the paddock and drenching the teams, the day could not have found more contrasting situations.
Qualifying. The day began with a successful qualification, on dry condition, marking top speeds for all of the drivers in the 41-car grid start. This also marked the first time this season that a qualification session was completed as previous races all saw heavy rains, cancelling qualifying and instead placing drivers on the starting grid based on championship points. Gregory Romanelli (The Collection) marked the fastest qualifying session time with a 2:11.357 around the 3.4-mile circuit. However, his high-evoking performance was cut short today he suffered a penalty, along with 4 additional drivers in Trofeo Pirelli, Trofeo Pirelli AM, and Coppa Sheel due to incident responsibility. Although the first turn at the top of the 130-foot hillside incline was passed unscathed by the Ferrari Challenge North America drivers, the same could not be said for Romanelli, Emmnanuel Anassis (Ferrari Quebec), Steve Johnson (Ferrari of Ft. Lauderdale), Alistair Garnett (Ferrari of Beverly Hills), and Barrry Zekelman (Ferrari of Ontario). All suffered a 30-second penalty due to incident responsibility.
The champion’s signature. The returning 2014 North American champion, Ricardo Perez (Ferrari of Houston), continued his success at the Austin home track. Although he started 8th on the grid, Perez found himself jumping to the top as incidents happened in front of him. When the checkered flag flew, he found himself first on the Trofeo Pirelli podium, alongside Carlos Kauffmann (Ferrari of Ft. Lauderdale) in second and Damon Ockey (Ferrari of Ontario) in third, at his first race of the season.
Pirelli AM. James Weiland (Boardwalk Ferrari) was unstoppable in the race. He led his Trofeo Pirelli AM class from start to finish, and even celebrated the victory with his son on top of the podium steps. Chuck Quinton finished in second place, and his first podium finish this season. And Canadian Patrice Brisebois came in third.
Coppa Shell. As for the Coppa Shell, Matt Keegan (Ferrari of San Francisco) found himself first on the top step of the podium in his fifth race with the Ferrari Challenge. In continuous with previous races and the ending to the 2015 season, Jean-Claude Saada (Boardwalk Ferrari) and Joe Courtney (Miller Motor Cars) were the top contenders in their class, finishing second and third respectively. The racing action continues tomorrow with a warm-up session at 9:35 AM CDT, followed by a qualifying session at 11:05 AM CDT. The second race of the weekend will go green at 2:00 PM CDT.