By Tyler Hooks
Press Release from EFRA:
A thrilling finals day at the Ongaroring initially started with what looked like promising weather with not a cloud in the sky and beautiful sunshine, the kind of weather we have become accustomed to in this wonderful part of Italy. But, the threat of rain was never far away!
The schedule had already been preplanned by the organisers to account for problematic weather in the afternoon so not a full schedule of finals, with many taking place on the previous day, nevertheless we had a rained off quarter-final from the previous evening, plus 40+ as a build up to the semifinals.
We then had 2 great semi finals that resulted in wins for Davide Ongaro and Riccardo Berton and the ever exciting Last Chance Qualifier that saw young Berak Kilic bump up to start on 13th place. At the front end of the grid we had Ongaro, from Berton from 2 twice European champions Elliott Boots and David Ronnefalk - so we were surely in for
a thrilling 45 minutes, and with a few light rain drops in the air - little did we know!
As the final got underway, Ongaro surged ahead looking as strong and confident as we expected, but as the laps approached double digits it seemed Ongaro just couldn't pull away from the chasing Berton and Ronnefalk and as the young Italian made a mistake the experienced Swede became the main chaser. Then, after mistakes from both Ongaro and Berton, Ronnefalk who had been up until now, decidedly off-colour, took a good lead. This combined with a longer fuel strategy left him at times looking like a strong candidate for the win.
However much more drama was set to unfold, as after a few minutes, heavy rain drops began to fall and the drivers started to experience increasingly adverse conditions as the track continued to get wetter and wetter with pools of water forming in places... during this time we saw the lead change many times, mostly with Ronnefalk, but also
with Ongaro and Berton spending time out front as the different pit strategies worked their way through. Then major drama struck at the 25 minute mark as Davide flamed out! At this point we knew, the man who
TQ'd the last 2 years in a row would once again have the European Championship slip from his clutches.
Next a frantic cat and mouse battle between Ronnefalk and Berton ensued with the lead continuing to change as the two teams fuel strategies continued to play out. But even more so the changing conditions affected the different set ups and driving styles, as the dry, dusty low grip track became a sticky, muddy affair where at times the cars were so covered in mud it was hard to tell them apart!
But, as the rain stopped and the hot sun once again shone, the track started to return to something more like its original form and as the cars cleaned themselves off, the drivers also really started to demonstrate their talent to the excited crowd.
A truly nail biting final that had everything going for it - went right down to the wire with Riccardo Berton claiming the win by just 0.4 of a second after 45 minutes, from Ronnefalk who had been leading just a few laps earlier, before a stunning overtake by the young Italian!
Also, a fantastic 3rd place behind Ricardo and David goes to young Burak Kilic, who worked his way up from P13! The final really took its toll with a number of drivers not making the full trip, not only Ongaro but also Batlle and even 3 time EFRA champion Reno Savoya - who made some convincing moves for the podium - dropped down by the end.
Shortly after the final the heavens truly opened with a torrential downpour lasting 2 hours, really justifying the organisers moves to bring races forward and schedule an early finish with a full and fantastic main final in the books.
Congratulations to Mauro and all the staff at the Ongaroring for putting on an event that will be remembered fondly for many years to come!
1 Berton Riccardo
2 Ronnefalk David
3 Kilic Burak U17
4 Savoya Renaud
5 Canas Juan carlos U17
6 Boots Elliott
7 Baldo Bryan
8 Ravaglia Marco U17
9 Batlle Robert
10 Figueiredo João
11 Ongaro Davide
12 Baruffolo Marco
13 Polito dal bello Mattia U17