MONZA, ITALY, (November 4, 2018) - Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.) won the Ferrari Challenge North American Championship with a win in the series finale race at the famed Autodromo Nazionale Monza this past week.
Pulling double duty all season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as well as the Ferrari Challenge North American series proved to be a winning combination for MacNeil. In the Challenge series, MacNeil posted nine wins through 13 rounds this last season on the strength of nine pole positions. The strong season and taking the final race win in Italy resulted in winning the Ferrari Challenge North American series championship. In the IMSA WeatherTech Championship he and the Scuderia Corsa team won the season ending Petit Le Mans and MacNeil was fourth in the GTD drivers’ championship.
“Anytime you win a championship, it’s fantastic and the Ferrari Challenge championship is no exception,” MacNeil said. “There’s some strong competition that kept the pressure on all year and didn’t make it easy for me. We had to work for it, especially with missing a race.”
Starting from pole for the North American final last Friday in the No. 263 WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 488 Challenge for Scuderia Corsa-Ferrari of Beverly Hills, MacNeil led the entire race which began in dry conditions. Shortly after the 30-minute race started, rain began to fall at the historic 3.6-mile, 11-turn Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
WeatherTech Racing was one of the few teams that chose not to pit for wet tires, which allowed MacNeil to hold his lead. The decision proved to be crucial towards MacNeil’s championship run, which was called with two minutes left on the clock after an incident brought out the yellow flag just prior.
“It’s a 30-minute race so if you pit, it’s over, plain and simple,” MacNeil explained. “Had it been an hour-long race, yeah maybe we would’ve thought about coming in and putting tires on and then trying to catch our way back up.
“I knew it was only a matter of time before someone went off, so I just had to tiptoe. A couple times I almost went off because you’re racing and you want to push, but ended up never putting a wheel off and had zero issues.”
In today’s Ferrari Challenge World Final, MacNeil lined-up his black-and-white Ferrari ninth after qualifying in the rain, with those in front putting in their qualifying times in the dry. At the drop of the green, MacNeil was the victim of a competitors overly-optimistic move coming to the green and was taken out at the starting line.
“It was a tough way to end a great season,” MacNeil said. “After winning nine races in the North American Championship and feeling really good about the World Final to get taken out at the green is very disappointing. Even though I qualified ninth, in the rain, most of the guys in front me posted their times in the dry. I was fast all week and really disappointed I didn’t get the chance to showcase the speed of our Ferrari and get to the front of the final race. I guess that’s racing.”
MacNeil will take some time off and turn his focus toward the IMSA WeatherTech Championship Roar Before the 24 at Daytona International Speedway, January 4-6, 2019.