The Mazda Raceway near Monterey, California, is one of the most challenging circuits in the world. It's got a double-apex hairpin at the start, an off-camber sweep to the left and of course the dreaded Corkscrew that drops five and a half stories with tight turns at top and bottom. Little wonder, then, that its lap record is a subject of such contention.
The record was set at 1:07.722 by Helio Castroneves in 2000 behind the wheel of a Penske Champ Car. And that remains the fastest official time since the ones that followed were not set during an officially-sanctioned race weekend. But, in 2006, Ricardo Zonta drove the Toyota TF106 there to an unofficial new record of 1:06.039. Sebastian Bourdais took it back for the Champ Car series the following year at 1:05.880. But now Ferrari has taken the unofficial crown at 1:05.786.
The record lap was set during the Ferrari Racing Days event by veteran scuderia test driver and Le Mans winner Marc Gené, behind the wheel of the Ferrari F2003-GA, the car named for the late Fiat chairman Gianni Agnelli with which Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello took seven grand prix wins and both titles in the 2003 Formula One World Championship. And now it can go down in history with another accolade to its history. See below for the official announcement.
Unofficial track record for Genè
Maranello, 21 May – This weekend, the Laguna Seca circuit hosted the Ferrari Racing Days, the highlight of which was the Ferrari Challenge North America and track sessions for owners involved in the XX and F1 programmes, with the help of very experienced professional racers like Marc Gene.
During the event, the Spanish driver, at the wheel of the F2003 GA Formula 1 car, set a new track record. As it was set during a free practice session, the record of 1.05.78 is classed as unofficial, beating the time set by Sebastien Bourdais on 10 March 2007 in a Panoz DP01 Champ Car (1.05.88) and Ricardo Zonta's time of 1.06.30, set in a Toyota TF106 F1 car on 20 August 2006.
Sunday saw the final race of this round of the Ferrari Challenge North America, with victory going to Alex Popow, racing for the Fort Lauderdale dealership. He took the flag ahead of Onofrio Triarsi (Ferrari of Central Florida,) in a race which featured an appearance from the Safety Car, that made the outcome far from certain. In the Coppa Shell, Ferrari of Ontario did the double with Robert Herjavac beating team-mate Damon Ockey and Maurizio Scala (Ferrari of Fort Lauderdale.) The fourth round of the Stars and Stripes Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli will take place at the Montreal circuit on 10 June, as part of the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix weekend, round 7 of the Championship.