Graham de Zille scored his first race win for 27 years as FF Corse dominated a largely wet weekend GT Cup action at Snetterton to make a clean sweep of the GTC division.
The Silverstone-based team claimed an overall race win as well as locking out all four GTC results; Graham and Dan de Zille triumphing in Sunday’s endurance race in their Ferrari 488 Challenge and Laki Christoforou and Adam Carroll doing likewise the previous day.
It was Dan de Zille who hit the ground running at the Norfolk circuit in a damp Saturday qualifying session as he took an outright pole position for Race One; making the most of the decision to upgrade from a Ferrari 458 Challenge to a newer 488 ahead of the weekend.
Leading for much of the opening sprint race, but eventually being passed by a faster GTO car, Dan won the GTC division by over 20 seconds to take his first victory since returning from a six-year-layoff earlier this season.
Joined by father Graham; who quit racing in 1993 only to return this year with FF Corse, Dan drove superbly in Sunday’s wet endurance race before handing over to Graham; the elder of the pair completing a double-success for their Ferrari. Graham was third in the morning sprint.
Team-mate Laki Christoforou won from pole position in Sunday’s sprint race, the championship-leader’s first solo race win in contemporary race machinery and his fourth GTC success of the season.
His win with co-driver Adam in Saturday’s enduro had been a dominant one. Spinning on the damp at Turn Four as the field prepared to form up for the start, he dived for the pitlane instead of forming up to watch for the green lights.
With rain beginning to fall and the field on slick tyres, Laki called for wets to help increase the level of grip available in such conditions.
His new rubber fitted, he immediately began lapping 30 or more seconds faster than those that had began the race on slick tyres.
Despite being nearly a lap behind as he exited the pits, he found himself in the overall lead by the end of the second tour as the rest dived for the pits.
A 1m45s victory; backed up when professional racer Adam climbed into the Ferrari at the mid-race driver swaps, was the largest of the season.
Laki was third in Saturday’s sprint and second in Sunday’s enduro with Adam; meaning the pair have never finished outside the top two in the longer races this year.
Laki and Adam now have an increased 24-point lead at the head of GTC. Graham and Dan hold third place while FF Corse are third in the overall Teams’ Championship.
Graham de Zille said: “I’m so pleased with how the weekend’s gone. My first win since the Renault Clio Cup in 1993 and a double-win for the car. Dan drove his socks off in tricky conditions and scored a great victory in the Saturday sprint race, while we had a really strong race to stay ahead of Adam [on Sunday evening]. The 488 Challenge isn’t that different to drive than the 458 we’d previously had, but it’s just a lot more sorted in every area and there’s definitely more ability to put the front end exactly where you want it. Silverstone is next up; a new layout for me, and Brands GP, which I haven’t raced on since 1987!”
Dan de Zille said: “The new 488 Challenge we’ve got is amazing. It puts you on the same level as the other guys inside the FF Corse team and you could see on Sunday morning when Dad and Laki had a great battle that we’re right in the hunt for wins all the time now. We were at Snetterton for the last event and although I finished second, I couldn’t keep pushing at the same speed. Here, I’ve had a great battle myself with Richard Chamberlain for the overall win – and he’s in GTO, which should be quicker than the GTC cars! I’m really looking forward to the next rounds.”
Laki Christoforou said: “I’m absolutely delighted. I’ve taken my first solo pole position and my first solo win in a modern racing car; my background being mostly in historics, and for some reason I always seem to go better in the wet than the dry with the Ferrari. I’m getting more and more confident with the car every time I drive it and the team continues to do a great job. I spun on the green-flag lap in Race Two, knew I needed wet tyres, so told them team ‘I’m coming in’ and went to first place within a couple of laps. Without the spin, I’m not sure I’d have been so decisive, but it definitely worked out because Adam and I won that one and now we have a nice little lead in the points.”
Adam Carroll said: “It’s been another good weekend and the season is definitely going to plan. The weather has been bizarre, going from the high thirties on Thursday to very cold over the weekend, but Laki drove extremely well to win the Sunday sprint and made the right call on the green-flag lap that led to our win in the Saturday enduro. The last race on Sunday was the toughest because it started spitting just as I went on-track, but there didn’t seem any benefit to coming in for wets, so I just had to manage the pace, not take any risks to catch Dan – who was driving very well – and make sure I brought the car home on the podium.”
Tim Mullen, Sporting Manager, said: ‘It’s been another very good weekend for us. Four wins from four isn’t easy to do, especially in such tough track conditions, so you have to celebrate it when it comes. We had an added challenge this weekend in running a new car for Graham and Dan and trying to get them up to speed with the 488 as fast as possible, which we managed as they matched Laki and Adam win for win. It was great to see Graham and Dan win after each stepped away from racing for quite a while, and to see Laki continue his great progress with his first solo win with us. The most encouraging thing to take away is that we now have both cars able to challenge for GTC and even overall wins and this will be incredibly important as we continue our fight for the championship.”
(Image Credit – Richard Styles)