FF Corse scored a magnificent overall win in the GT Cup at Donington Park last weekend as changeable weather conditions made for an ultra-challenging weekend in the East Midlands.
Dan de Zille’s exceptional drive in a wet sprint race on Sunday morning in his GTC-class Ferrari 488 Challenge gave him victory over the faster GTO cars and secured a fifth win of the season.
Paired with father Graham for the longer enduro, Dan produced a drive every bit as impressive as the duo took their podium count for the season to 18 from 23 races.
Dan and Graham were Silverstone-based FF Corse’s only representatives at Donington with Laki Christoforou and Adam Carroll absent after a running injury sidelined Laki just a few days before the event.
With the team’s title aspirations now on their shoulders, Dan and the team gambled on a damp track being at its driest at the end of Sunday’s 15-minute qualifying session; leading to a one-shot effort on slick tyres.
The gamble paid off as Dan stormed to class pole and then used his advantageous position as a springboard to an overall victory by over four seconds – his fifth win since returning from a six-year layoff at Snetterton in May.
Suffering a 15-second pitstop penalty as a result of finishing second in the previous day’s enduro, Dan was over 30 seconds away from the GTC lead when he emerged from the pits having taken over from Graham during Sunday’s 50-minute race.
A simply staggering drive that brought the gap down to just four hundredths of a second by the finish line – propelled by setting the race’s fastest lap by over one second – was the highlight of the race.
Saturday’s action was run in totally dry conditions. Graham took the reins for qualifying and put the Ferrari second in GTC.
He finished there too in the sprint race and combined with Dan to add another runner-up spot in the enduro; less than 10 seconds away from victory.
Their results kept them third in the GTC standings and sixth in the overall points table, meaning they go to the season finale at Snetterton in five weeks still in with a chance of winning both championships; just like team-mates Laki & Adam. FF Corse are second in the Teams’ Championship.
Dan de Zille said: “It’s been a good weekend, especially getting the outright win on Sunday. Dad went well in practice in the wet and in qualifying it was a bit tiptoe, but I went for slicks and it worked out well as my focus was on nailing the last lap. I got a clear lap and that was pole. Then in the sprint race, I got into the lead at the start and the car’s just very quick now, so that helped me to win. In the dry, Dad smashed his personal-best lap around here, which is great. The weekend’s been about getting him as many laps as possible and improving. He wasn’t far off me in the end, so we’ve both had a good weekend.”
Graham de Zille said: “It’s been a very good weekend. I don’t quite like the wet, but Dan likes it and obviously we did well in the practice and then qualifying. In the first race on Sunday we were on pole, but I didn’t make the best start in the enduro, got swamped by a few cars and had a bit of contact from one or two of them. I stayed in second place in GTC for a few laps and then the car started to feel nervous in those conditions, so we changed onto slicks. Then Dan had a huge charge and with nine minutes left, we thought we could do the double. I’m very proud of him, and I’ve been improving here so it’s been a good weekend all round.”
Tim Mullen, Sporting Manager, said: “It’s been a strong weekend for the team, and a very exciting finish in the end. We ended being about 40 seconds behind our rivals, but to then come back and almost nick the win at the very last second showed how quick we were, even if we couldn’t quite make it. A really good weekend, and puts us in good shape for the final round. We won overall today, which is fantastic, as we’re in the GTC class, which are slower cars, so that shows how well the team has performed.”