Enna-Pergusa/Sicily, November 7-8,
days prior to the London decision
Hardman out - Gary Pearson champion
participants in the popular Ferrari Shell
and Eddie in action
At the weekend prior to the
memorable date on which Michael Schumacher was
deprived of his title as 1997 Formula 1
vice-champion at London, Ferrari hosted the
second and final part of the official 50th
anniversary celebration in a quite unusual
Enna in Sicily
reason for which Ferrari obviously chose this
remote spot for the event was the desire to
involve entire Italy into the festivities. After
Rome and Modena/Maranello had been the sites of
the major part of the unique celebration in late
May and early June, the tifosi in the very
southern part of Italy should have their very own
festa as well.
one had decided to host the traditional final
event of all series of the F355 Challenge at the
Autodromo di Pergusa instead of Mugello.
circuit, opened in 1961, still has the charm of
the earlier days in motor-racing compared to many
high-tech tracks around to world. Nevertheless,
several important events take place here every
year, including for example a race of the
European Formula 3000 championship.
is a quite unique, being a nearly oval circuit
(with chicanes) surrounding a lake, the Lago di
Despite of the fact that the three
above mentioned chicanes have been installed in
recent years, a very high average speed is
possible on the 4,2 kms long circuit, as shown
during qualifying by the mid-engined sportscars
in the Ferrari Shell Historical Challenge: Only
2:09,873 minutes elapsed until Patrick Stieger
had finished one lap; this proves an average
speed of 157,099 km/h!
historic racing series (managed for the factory
by Jean Sage), too, held its final event on
Sicily. For the first time, the Challenge had
been divided up into two categories of
drum-braked and disc-braked cars. At the end, the
overall champion had to be determined, although
the ranking is not important to many of the
entrants. The important thing is to race the
historic cars in a way they should be raced
instead of tucking them away in museums and
To tell the statistics at once: Gary
Pearson became the champion in Brandon Wang's 250
Testa Rossa s/n 0718TR.
the first of the two heats at Enna-Pergusa,
Pearson took over the lead from Peter Hardman
who, up to that point, had been the best scoring
driver in the foregoing events. The professional
racer and former Formula 3- and touring car-pilot
could not do anything against this: After just
two laps, he had blown the engine of the 330 LMB
s/n 4381SA; mechanic Tim Samways will have some
work to do in the winter months.
While Pearson and Hardman were
regular starters in the entire 1997 season, some
new participants could be seen at Enna as well:
spectacular was the 857 S s/n 0588M, owned by
Jean-Claude Bajol from France. The car with an
unusual rearwing was driven by Willie Green, who
is well known in England for his many entries in
Brit could not be very fast in the 857 S (by the
way, its four-cylinder engine had been replaced
by the V12 of a 250 GT, but the ex-John Edgar car
was a treat to see anyway.
a new face in the series: Giorgio Schoen, the
official Ferrari-agent in Milan. He drove his 250
GT LWB Berlinetta Scaglietti "Tour de
France" s/n 1335GT, accompanied by the two
identical models of Carlo Voegele from
Switzerland s/n 1385GT and Nicolaus Springer s/n
0909GT, the Switzerland-resident German
Jean Sage would have liked to race his freshly DK
restored 375 MM Berlinetta Pinin Farina s/n
0358AM at the event, but a defect oil-filter kept
the car from being entered.
non-starter was the 250 GTO '62 s/n 3387GT of
Bernard Carl, also due to technical problems. So,
the car could at least act as a donor of a
front-axle which was implanted to P. Paul
Pappalardo's GTO s/n 5111GT for the race.
For probably most of the 120.000
Sicilian spectators, the F1-demonstration run of
Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine was the
highlight of the weekend. Starting their F310 Bs
at full throttle and disappearing in clouds of
burned rubber caused frenetic applause among the
to the Historical Challenge:
first heat of the drum-brake cars was won by Matt
Grist in an Alfa Romeo C35 which had once been an
official Grand Prix-car of the Scuderia Ferrari
back in the times of the 750 kg-formula.
the track had been hit by heavy rain just before
the race, the light Alfa Romeo GP-cars had an
advantage; only the 250 TRs could keep up with
them; Gary Pearson, of course, had the best
performance among them.
Monteverde, who has compiled one of the world's
most important collections of race-cars during
the year, had a fantastic debut and placed his
yellow 250 TR s/n 0738TR on a sensational 3rd
position. And he was even able to reach the same
position in the second heat on Sunday!
Due to the massive rain, the Stieger
brothers and Marc Caveng decided not to
participate on Saturday. Their two 512 Ms (s/n
1018 and s/n 1050) and the 312 PB (s/n 0888) were
left in the dry box for the day.
in the heat for disc-braked cars, David Piper and
his 330 P2 (s/n 0836) "inherited" the
pole from the withdrawn cars and eventually took
the win. David Franklin in the cockpit of Carlos
Monteverde's 365 GTB/4 Daytona Competizione (s/n
15667) came in second.
Sage had entered his 250 GT SWB Berlinetta
Competizione (s/n 2165GT) in this race. The car
could be seen racing for the first time after the
restoration which had become necessary after the
heavy crash during the 1996 Ferrari Racing Days
at the Nürburgring.
Sage safely reached the finish, Gerhard Schwing
dropped out of the race in his SWB Berlinetta s/n
1887GT which had suffered a severe damage on the
engine. Just one of many defects which occurred
on the cars during the weekend. The number of
non-finishers had never been this high in the
Ferrari Shell Historical Challenge.
Am Sonntag endete
allerdings ein Duell Sages mit Gerhard Schwing
für den Deutschen wenig erfreulich: Seine
silberne Berlinetta (1887GT) erlag einem
kapitalen Motorschaden. - Die Rennstrecke von
einst stellte auch Anforderungen von einst an
Material. Noch nie zuvor waren soviel technische
Defekte im Laufe eines der historischen
results on Sunday: Gary Pearson became 1st OA,
followed by Pietro Brigato and Carlos Monteverde
(all three of them driving 250 TRs).
Stieger took the win in the disc-brake heat in
his 512 M, Marc Caveng became second (also on 512
M) and Christoph Stieger finished third in the
David Piper suffered ignition problems on Sunday,
but this did not bother him very much.
A motorsport celebrity paid a visit
to the event on Sunday: Nino Vaccarella. The
teacher from Palermo had been one of the
top-drivers in sportscar racing 30 years ago, and
he won the Targa Florio in 1965 in a 330 P2.
being a local hero, Vaccarella was honored by the
crowd who cried "Nino, Nino!"
in chorus. Of course, Luca Cordero di Montezemolo
"Luca, Luca!" and
Michael Schumacher "Schummy,
Schummy!" were welcome in the same
event on Sicily was great, and one may hope that
a second edition of this Grande Festa Siciliana
will take place earlier than Ferrari's 75th