The 2021 season of Ferrari Challenge North America is set to begin this weekend at Virginia International Raceway. A full paddock of over 50 Ferrari 488 Challenge Evos will be joined by participants in the Club Competizioni GT, also making its first stop of the 2021 season, at a circuit that makes its first appearance on a Challenge schedule since 2007.
40 Ferraris entered to race, more to join for Club Challenge experience
The paddock in Virginia is full of Ferrari, most notably the 40 Ferrari 488 Challenge Evos that are set to compete in the weekend’s races. The grid is set with an exciting mix of familiar faces and new names who will do battle over the circuit’s challenging 3.27 mile layout. Notable returnees include all of the 2020 North American champions. Cooper MacNeil (Ferrari of Westlake) makes his return and another run at the Trofeo Pirelli class championship, while Dave Musial (Ferrari of Lake Forest) will challenge for supremacy in the Trofeo Pirelli AM-1 category. Brad Horstmann (Foreign Cars Italia), fresh off securing his championship at Misano earlier in March will be in the middle of a very competitive Trofeo Pirelli AM-2 category that also includes the 2020 Coppa Shell AM champion Justin Wetherill (Ferrari of Central Florida).
In addition to the familiar faces, the paddock has been filled with a number of new names, some of whom will join in Ferrari Challenge competition, while others will focus on the Club Challenge program. Offering hours of track time over the course of the weekend, the 12 drivers set to take part in the Club Challenge program will be able to enjoy the challenge of Virginia International Raceway and hospitality of a Ferrari Challenge weekend without the pressure of competition.
Ferrari Challenge makes its return to VIR after a long hiatus
The 2021 season-opener also marks a long awaited return of the Challenge series to the famed Virginia circuit. The most recent stop by the Challenge series was in 2007 when the Challenge series still made use of the Ferrari F430 Challenge car. Today, drivers will take on the same 3.27 mile (5.26km) layout in the Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo, which offers nearly 200hp more than the F430 Challenge and immensely more sophisticated electronics and increased downforce befitting the years of research and development invested into today’s Challenge race cars. While the fastest lap times of the 2007 race were just under the 2:00 minute mark, today’s drivers are targeting lap times that are nearly 10 seconds faster per lap and perhaps even greater improvement come the qualifying sessions on Saturday and Sunday.
Club Competizioni GT makes 2021 North American debut
The Ferrari Challenge competitors will be joined by the epic GT machinery of Club Competizioni GT for a shared opening round of 2021. Featuring the Ferrari GT racing cars of the past 30 years, the Club invites owners of some of the most prestigious Ferrari racing models, including the F40 Competizione of 1989
all the way to the 488 GT3s and GTEs that are currently racing around the world. At VIR, Club drivers will enjoy over 8 hours of on-track time paired with instruction from Ferrari factory driver Toni Vilander.
How to watch
All Ferrari Challenge qualifying and racing sessions will once again be available to watch via live stream. First and foremost, viewers can tune in to live.ferrari.com to catch all of the action, or follow along via the Ferrari Races Facebook page. Those who prefer to watch on a smart TV can also make use of the Motorsports.tv app that will carry all of the same action as well.
Following the weekend, the series will air a 1-hour highlights program of all of the best action from the round on CBS Sports Network on April 3rd. Check your local listings for details.
The opening round of the 2021 season will begin with two days of testing as the Ferrari Challenge drivers work to get back up to speed from the off-season. Drivers will enjoy 8 hours of track time per day to perfect their 488 Challenge Evos and come to terms with the Virginia circuit. Friday’s action will be entirely devoted to official practice sessions before Qualifying sessions begin at 9:35 AM (all times are ET) and conclude at 10:50. The green flag on the first race of the 2021 season will fly at 2:25PM and podiums are scheduled to conclude by 3:45. Sunday’s activity begins in much the same way with Qualifying again starting at 9:35AM, though the racing action will begin just a bit earlier at 1:10PM on Sunday.