Ferrari Red dominated the evening in Shanghai with the illumination of the Oriental Pearl Tower, the Chinese city's famous symbol. It was a further sign of the admiration of the Chinese people for the Prancing Horse, a deep-rooted love that can be seen in every single event: from the Grand Prix to the inauguration of new stores as well as celebrations, such as the one today, where the 999th Chinese Ferrari customer since the brand came to China has been celebrated with a multimedia show on the Pu Jiang river.
This is an important number: in China the number nine - 'jiu' - is a symbol for longevity and excellence. An alliance between Ferrari and China, which officially started just over five years ago and which has seen the market become increasingly important for Ferrari with 300 cars sold in 2010 and an outlook of impressive growth.
Celebrating Johnson Zhang, the 999th client, Ferrari CEO Amedeo Felisa said: "For Ferrari, China represents the present and the future. It is a great country where we continue to invest. I'm convinced that in a couple of years, we'll reach sales of 500 cars per year, a number equal to established European markets."
The festivities started in the afternoon with a show of more than 15 Ferraris in front of the Oriental Pearl Tower and ended with a gala dinner, in the company of Amedeo Felisa together with Ferrari Asia Pacific CEO Edwin Fenech and numerous clients. Amongst them were many young Ferrari owners under the age of 40: new entrepreneurs who, as a symbol of their success, were able to realise their aspiration of owning a dream car that is the symbol of Italy itself: a Ferrari.
After Johnson Zhang symbolically turned the key of his Ferrari 458 Italia, illuminating a screen with the number 999, he said: "It is a great honour for me to be here today. With this car I made a dream come true. The dream of every man. I'm glad that I can experience this very special moment for China. For me Ferrari is the symbol of success and the brand's values are an inspiration for the upcoming goals I want to achieve."
The bond between Ferrari and China is not exclusively commercial: just over a year ago the artist Lu Hao created a unique Ferrari 599 GTB, painting its livery with a special technique, reproducing the antique Song dynasty's Ge Kiln porcelain. The car was sold at an auction in Beijing and the money went to a project supporting young students from Shanghai's Tsinghua University over three years. In 2010 Shanghai was the stage for the first presentation outside of Europe of the experimental laboratory vehicle, HY-KERS, at the World Expo.
Numerous fans of the Prancing Horse come to see the Chinese Grand Prix every year at the local track. Inaugurated in 2004 by Ferrari, the first ever Formula 1 GP to be held there the same year was won by the team from Maranello. The Ferrari Owners Club China was founded in 2009 and everything is set up for the first Ferrari Challenge series, the company's one-make Championship, to be held this year in Asia.Published 17 January 2011