Francorchamps, 27 July 2017 – This weekend’s Spa 24 Hours is one of the biggest races in the world and is also one with a special significance for Ferrari. The 69th edition of the marathon held on the legendary Ardennes circuit will see 11 Prancing Horse cars on track.
History. The endurance race, whose history and prestige stands alongside the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Daytona and the Nurburgring, witnessed the first appearance of the Prancing Horse badge on the cars of the Scuderia Ferrari. The mother of First World War hero Francesco Baracca had entrusted the symbol to Enzo Ferrari. That symbol immediately brought luck to Ferrari, who in 1932, 15 years before founding his company, deployed a number of Alfa Romeos in the Scuderia’s colours. Indeed, the Spa 24 Hours of 1932 saw two Alfa Romeo 8C 2300s with the black prancing horse on a yellow background. The winner was car no. 38 driven by Antonio Brivio and Eugenio Siena, who finished ahead of teammates Piero Taruffi and Guido d’Ippolito, in what was an extraordinary success. The Alfa Romeo of Scuderia Ferrari also won the 1936 edition with the 8C 2900A of Raymond Sommer and Francesco Severi. Since then Maranello has tasted victory almost a hundred times at Spa-Francorchamps in closed-wheel competitions. The most recent successes include the World Endurance Championship (WEC) race of last May, won by the 488 GTE of AF Corse crewed by Davide Rigon and Sam Bird. In 2017 there will be eight official Ferrari drivers involved.
Pro Class. There are three cars competing for three teams in the main category. The 488 GT3 no. 50 of AF Corse will be driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi, second two months ago in the WEC race, Michele Rugolo and Pasin Lathouras. Pier Guidi and Lathouras previously won the Pro-Am Cup race with Ferrari in 2015, while the Italian triumphed in the 2012 edition. The car of Kaspersky Motorsport will be crewed by James Calado, Marco Cioci and Giancarlo Fisichella, who up to now have been less successful in this championship than expected. Fisichella has won twice at Spa-Francorchamps in the WEC, while Marco Cioci came first in the WEC and the 24 Hours in the Pro-Am class in 2014. The final Pro-class car is SMP Racing’s no. 72, entrusted to Victor Shaytar and the two official Ferrari drivers, Miguel Molina and Davide Rigon. The Italian driver has taken the winner’s laurels twice in the WEC at Spa (2016 and 2017), but he also won the in the GT2 class at the 24 Hours of 2008 behind the wheel of the F430 of BMS Scuderia Italia along with Paolo Ruberti, Matteo Malucelli and Joel Camathias. Rigon, Molina and Shaytar are the highest placed Ferrari drivers in the standings and a great result at the 24 Hours could give them the lead in the Endurance Cup, which would then only have the Barcelona race to go.
Pro-Am Cup. The Pro-Am Cup class includes six 488 GT3s. AF Corse is fielding two, the legendary no. 51, with Motoaki Ishikawa, Lorenzo Bontempelli and Olivier Beretta, and no. 52 for the recent winners of the 4 Hour of Spielberg in the European Le Mans Series, Matt Griffin, Duncan Cameron and Aaron Scott, with the addition of Riccardo Ragazzi. Cameron and Griffin won this class in the 2013 race together with Alex Mortimer and Toni Vilander, at the wheel of a 458 Italia GT3. Spirit of Race will be there with the three winners of the 2014 edition along with Cioci: Andrea Bertolini, Niek Homemrson and Louis Machiels, who are joined by Rory Butcher. The Swiss team’s other car will be in the hands of the victors of Monza, Alex Demirdjian and Davide Rizzo, as well as Nicolas Minassian and Toni Vilander. Then finally Michael Broniszewski will be in the 488 GT3 no. 11 of Kessel Racing along with Andrea Rizzoli, Matteo Cressoni and Giacomo Piccini, while Rinaldi Racing team will deploy Alexander Mattschull, Rinat Salikhov, Norbert Siedler and Matteo Malucelli.
Am Cup. There are only two Ferrari 488 GT3s in the Am Cup class but they can count on two of the favourite crews. Rinaldi Racing no. 488 will have Rino Mastronardi, Patrick Van Glabecke, Pierre Ehret and Gabriele Lancieri, while Kessel Racing no. 888, winner at the Paul Ricard, will feature Jacques Duyver, Marco Zanuttini, David Perel and Niki Cadei. After the Bronze Test on Tuesday, the race comes alive today with the first free practices. The 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps will get going on Saturday at 4:30 pm.