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"The third round of the Ferrari European Challenge Championship took the first visit to Italian soil on the east coast of Bologna at Misano World Circuit. After a single test, going into the round there was a lot of promise and excitement due to finding a great setup and some stellar race pace as we saw in Valencia.



Both test sessions were spent for me to get back into the groove of the track and work on some racing lines as the competition this weekend was extremely strong which included an ex-F1 driver - Adrian Sutil. Towards the end of the second of the two free practice sessions we practice our qualifying simulations. Our best lap was unfortunately impeded by a fellow driver getting in the way yet only saw us 0.3 seconds off the leader. This meant that going into Saturday, we strongly believed that our pace was on par with the top as a minimum.




To prevent an unexpected issue from arising, we decided to leave our pit garage with 20 minutes to go on the timer, allowing us enough time to fix and amend any issues on the car. After setting a couple banker laps and getting the tyres up to temperature, we pushed hard. After piecing together our best first and second sector, it all came down to the final couple of corners to potentially place the car onto pole. Unfortunately, this ambition was cut short by the championship leader once again impeding my best qualifying lap, similar to Valencia.


This unfortunately meant we had to settle for P2 on the grid for the race later that day.




Starting on the left hand side of the grid was going to be difficult, as it gave a massive disadvantage due to being on the outside for the first corner on the track. As the lights went out and the 20 cars navigated the first couple corners, I fell back down to third place. A couple laps later and the two cars for position in front of me were slowly pulling away. I could tell that they were using up a lot of their tyre’s life early on, and we as a team decided to hold back and make a charge later on into the race. With 20 minutes to go, we decided to turn the wick up, catching and then passing Kral for second place with eyes now set on first place nearly 4 seconds ahead.


Our pace was immaculate, and we took the gap from 4 seconds, to under 0.7 seconds going onto the last couple laps. I could tell that the driver ahead was slightly succumbing to the pressure of being caught and repeatedly fell out of the track limits. Unfortunately it was too little, too late and we came across the line for a strong P2 finish. However, just before the podium ceremony the results were altered with the winner claiming a 5 second time penalty for repeatedly exceeding track limits. 


This meant I had claimed for first Ferrari European Championship win! I was absolutely ecstatic to say the least after only having first driven a race car 9 months prior. It felt amazing to figuratively break the duck and start to claw back points in the championship battle.




Qualifying 2 was another strong showing of pace with another P2 finish and only 0.2 seconds off of the pole time. This was completed in exceptional circumstances however, as a red flag during my first push lap meant that all tyre temperature was lost and with only very limited time in the session remaining, it became a one lap shootout on cold tyres. So once again, not a straight forward qualifying session, yet a great result.



The game plan in race 2 was a more developed plan from race 1. The goal was to maintain position in lap 1 and mount pressure towards the end of the race. The lights went out and we successfully hung onto second place after the opening tour of the race. The leader once again drove away yet we aimed to keep him within 2.5 seconds. With 13 minutes remaining, I was given the radio call to close the gap and within 4 laps the gap was left at 0.9 seconds. The leader once again was showing signs of succumbing to the pressures by missing apexes, track limit breach and general overdriving. This was all topped off when the leader missed his braking point and crashed into the wall at turn 14. 


We immediately acquired the lead and shortly after the safety car came out to allow the car beached in the gravel to be removed. The race was then finished under safety car and we claimed our second win of the championship but this time on track. This meant the championship had tightened up with only 1 point separating myself and the championship leader.


Unfortunately, a post scrutineering appeal in regards to a technical non-compliance on the car had myself excluded from the final results. It was a technical issue which did not effect car performance whatsoever and unfortunately has cost us. However, myself and the team will come back stronger for the future."


Thomas Fleming's Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo
Thomas Fleming's Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo
Thomas Fleming celebrating on the podium
Thomas Fleming celebrating on the podium
Thomas Fleming winning in Misano
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