Daytona Beach, 26 Jan 2017 – Ferrari is back at Daytona just over a month after the success of the first Finali Mondiali ever held in America. In December, the Prancing Horse was there essentially to celebrate the marque together with customers and American fans. However, this time the aim is to beat the many other manufacturers at the legendary 24 Hours that opens the IMSA SportsCar Championship season and, in effect, the intense season of GT racing.
GLTM. Three Ferraris will be racing in two categories 50 years after the famous clean sweep of 1967. The 488 GTE of Risi Competizione, owned by Giuseppe Risi, will race in the GTLM class with an all-official crew of Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella, who will compete in the entire American championship season. James Calado will join them to reform the trio that won the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, the last race of the 2016 season. The competition will be tough, with US cars keen to do well at home. It will also be the debut race for some new models, just like the 488 GTE a year ago.
GTD. Two 488 GT3s will be involved in the GTD class. Anticipation is high for the Scuderia Corsa car, with Denmark’s Christina Nielsen and Italy’s Alessandro Balzan seeking another championship win. Matteo Cressoni and Sam Bird, the Prancing Horse’s official GT racing driver, will crew the car of Giacomo Mattioli’s team in the 24 Hours. Spirit of Race will field the other 488 GT3, in the hands of the great gentleman driver Peter Mann. Maurizio Mediani, Rino Mastronardi, Alessandro Pier Guidi and official Maranello driver Davide Rigon will support Mann who is famous for his blue cars. This top-level crew will also include a past winner of the race. In fact, Alessandro Pier Guidi was a member of the crew that triumphed in the GTD class in 2014 at the wheel of the 458 Italia of Level 5 Motorsports.
History. Ferrari has twice been overall winner of the 24 Hours. The first time was in 1967 with the official 330 P4 of Lorenzo Bandini and Chris Amon, when there was the famous one-two-three overall finish and a Ferrari hat-trick on the podium. Then in 1998 the 333 SP-Moretti Doran Racing team won with Arie Luyendyk, Didier Theys, Mauro Baldi and Gianpiero Moretti. There have also been eight class victories, most recently the already mentioned one of 2014 in the GTD with Segal-Pier Guidi-Bell-Tucker-Sweedler on the Level 5 Motorsports 458 Italia. However, there have been another 11 wins not obtained in 24 hours. The first came in 1959, in the USAC series, with Santiago Gonzalez and Skip Hudson in a 250 GT for the Hans Hirch team. We also shouldn’t forget the triumph in the 6 Hours of 1972 by the 312 PB Scuderia Ferrari with Mario Andretti and Jacky Ickx.
Programme. The long weekend at Daytona kicks off on Thursday with the free practice sessions followed by qualifying at 3:10 pm local time (9:10 pm CET) for the GTLM class and at 3.35 pm (9:35 pm CET) for the GTD. On Friday there is another practice session before the race starts at 2:30 pm local time (8:30 pm CET). The conclusion is of course scheduled for the same time on Sunday.