● Roger Grouwels returns to single-make series after year's absence
● Former world champion takes fifth place on Saturday
● Team occupies fourth place in championship after opening weekend
Maastricht, 29 March 2023 - Team RaceArt-Kroymans finished in the top ten in both races during its Ferrari Challenge Coppa Shell return. Roger Grouwels steered his Ferrari 488 Challenge EVO to fifth and sixth place at Valencia’s challenging Circuit Ricardo Tormo.
After a year's absence, during which Grouwels took multiple Supercar Challenge race wins and competed in the legendary Dakar Rally, the Dutchman returned to the Ferrari Challenge paddock where he managed to win the Coppa Shell world title in 2020. The weekend commenced on Friday with a two-hour test session, followed by a single Free Practice session later that afternoon. The packed opening day was all about mileage as Grouwels completed a total of 63 laps behind the wheel of the white, black and red Ferrari. In total, he covered over 250 kilometres throughout the day.
Things really kicked off on Saturday and Grouwels immediately showed he had lost none of his competitive spirit during the year away. He briefly occupied provisional pole prior to a short red flag triggered by a stranded Corinna Gostner. Even though Grouwels then improved to a best lap of 1:37.358, he could not prevent conceding to Axel Sartingen and Manuela Gostner, qualifying third.
In the opening 30-minute race, Grouwels quickly lost third place to compatriot Fons Scheltema due to a somewhat slow start. Contact between Kessel Racing driver Scheltema and Peter Christensen allowed Grouwels to regain the spot, but Scheltema retook third place a few laps later. A late safety car for a collision elsewhere on track resulted in a one-lap sprint to the finish, with Christensen passing Grouwels'
car with an aggressive manoeuvre for fourth. A daring overtaking attempt round the outside of Christensen in the final corner proved insufficient to pass the Dane and Team RaceArt-Kroymans crossed the line in fifth place.
A similar qualifying scenario unfolded on Sunday. Grouwels set an early best time of 1:37.486 and once again briefly found himself in first place. However, improvements from rivals caused him to drop down the order in the remainder of the session and he ultimately qualified fifth.
Grouwels again lost ground during the start for the second race and fell from fifth to seventh, after which he attempted to stick to the cars ahead as best he could. It paid off with a position gain when Christian Kinch spun his car into the gravel exiting turn 14. With five minutes to go, Grouwels looked to be heading to a second straight top-five finish when Christian Herdt-Wipper received a drive through penalty for
repeatedly violating track limits. However, Willem van der Vorm managed to pass the RaceArt Ferrari in the closing minutes, resulting in sixth place.
By finishing in the top ten twice, Roger Grouwels has now scored 11 points and sits fourth in the Coppa Shell standings. The Ferrari Challenge continues on 21-23 April at the Misano World Circuit in Misano, Italy.