A 15th place finish and DNF wasn’t exactly what Vincent ‘Enteng’ Floirendo was hoping for on his first Ferrari Challenge outing. But a quick chat with the man revealed what an eye-opening experience it really was last February at the Sepang International Circuit (SIC).
This was many firsts for the 46-year-old businessman: first time to drive at the famed Formula 1 circuit, first time to race a Ferrari 458 Evoluzione, and first time to race with such a competitive field of 30 drivers.
“I’m used to racing a Mitsubishi Evo 6 in GT300, then I jumped into a Ferrari 458 Evoluzione with a paddle shift transmission. It definitely was a big difference,” he recalled. But surprisingly, it proved to be quite easy for him to adapt to an Italian supercar. “Here, if you want to upshift, just pull the right lever, then to downshift, pull the left.”
The 4-day race weekend, however, didn’t start so well for Vincent. Electrical gremlins prevented him from setting good laps and even robbed him of valuable track time.
“I was wondering if it was me, because my times were really slow in the 2 min 20 sec range,” Vincent told us. “This was when the others were already doing 2 min 14 sec laps. So I asked the instructor to drive my car and within half a lap, he knew there was a problem. We brought it back in the garage and had the Ferrari engineers check the car.”
Unfortunately, no one had a clue what was wrong with what was practically a brand new Ferrari. Beating around the bush, the crew changed the main wiring harness, engine wiring harness, and ignition box once, while replacing the ECU twice to no avail.
As a true race car driver, Vincent gave his best on Saturday’s qualifying and race even with an ailing car. He managed to qualify a respectable 6th in the Coppa Shell class, but dropped to 15th by the time the chequered flag came out.
That night, the Ferrari engineers gave the No. 145 car a once-over in the hopes of getting it running properly. Well whaddya know, a transmission software reset was all it needed to get it up to speed.
Remembering the events that Sunday morning, Vincent shared “I qualified 4th fastest in class and knew I could gun it. I was feeling good in the second race and was running in 3rd by the seventh lap, which gave me a good shot at the podium.” Then, a Singaporean driver hit him from behind while trying to pull an ambitious overtaking maneuver. The collision broke his rear suspension, spun him out, and put him out of the race.
Vincent’s very first Ferrari Challenge experience wasn’t ‘ideal’. Actually, it’s far from it. But the time sheets does show a lot of potential for his upcoming races and a podium finish is very much possible. “I’m here to race and not just hang around in the back of the grid. I want to be competitive, especially that I’m carrying the Philippine flag.”
Vincent ‘Enteng’ Floirendo is now preparing for the second leg of the 2014 Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli happening on April 10 to 13 at the Sydney Motorsport Park, Australia. We’re wishing him the best.
[Photos by Igor Maminta courtesy of Autostrada Motore, Inc.]