Ferrari has strong contenders in both GT classes in the upcoming 58th running of the 24 At Daytona. The opening round of the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will be contested on January 25-26.
GTLM. Risi Competizione won the 2019 season-ending Petit Le Mans IMSA endurance event at Road Atlanta to close out 2019, and got 2020 off to a quick start by setting the fastest speed in GT Le Mans qualifying during the recent Roar Before the 24 test at Daytona International Speedway. James Calado turned a best lap of one minute, 42.685-seconds in the No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTE co-driven by Daniel Serra, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Davide Rigon, giving the Houston-based team the right to select the premier pit and garage locations among the GT Le Mans competitors for the 24 Hours at Daytona. Calado, Serra, and Pier Guidi won the Le Mans 24 Hour as well as Petit Le Mans with Ferrari last year, and the impressive trio will have another strong team member as Davide Rigon has joined the roster as the team looks to go one spot better after a run to second place in the 2019 24 hour race. “I always love driving Daytona, but in previous years, we’ve been unfortunate not to get the win,” Calado said. “Last year, we finished second – about one second behind on track after 24 hours. It’s a great team! I’m happy to be back with Risi. Everyone involved is super passionate for their work and this is something great to have in a team.” Calado is looking to a tight race in GTLM, which features two-car factory efforts by BMW, Corvette and Porsche against the Risi Ferrari. “It’s going to be very, very close,” Calado said of the competition. “We’ve got the two new Corvettes, which look strong. But in my opinion the most important thing is to keep focus on our performance, our team car and in what we can do to be in the best shape as possible. We cannot control what others are doing.” Rigon will be running in his seventh 24 at Daytona – his fifth with Risi – and was part of last year’s second-place lineup. “I’m very proud to be back to be back in Daytona with the Risi Competizione team,” he said. “Last year especially, we led for several hours, and at the last moment we lost the victory. Now looking forward I wish to put all my experience to arrive this year in the best position and be on top with all of my team.” Rigon feels concentration will be the key to staying in contention throughout the 24 hours. “Daytona is a not so difficult of a circuit , but it is very easy to make a stupid mistake,” Rigon said. “So I find that we need to always be concentrating 100% everywhere, but especially in the big braking point of the ‘bus stop’ and in the first corner, because we arrive there at a very high speed.”
GTD. Scuderia Corsa returns to the 24 Hours at Daytona with Cooper MacNeil, Toni Vilander, Jeff Westphal and Alessandro Balzan piloting the white No. 63 WeatherTech Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020. The team had the chance to get familiar with the new-for-2020 Evo in pre-season testing. The Evo 2020 has already proven itself a winner in international competition with an Asian Le Mans Series victory earlier this month. Balzan returns to driving after a taking a one-year hiatus from competition. “It is great to be back in the No. 63 WeatherTech Racing Ferrari,” Balzan said. “I am grateful to everyone for helping me get back into the car after taking last year off. I have done a lot of races with Cooper and Jeff and I have also raced with Toni here in 2014. The GTD field is very tight and strong. The Evo is amazing to drive. We are still learning how to get the most out of it, but so far so good.” Westphal was sixth fastest in GT Daytona qualifying during the recent Roar, turning a best lap of one minute, 46.967-seconds. “The 63 WeatherTech Ferrari Evo is a new car for us,” Westphal said. “There are a lot of changes to this car from the last one, not huge, but they all impact the way the car drives. We are getting closer to that happy place that Scuderia Corsa has been able to have over the last couple of years with the Ferrari. I was pretty pleased with my fast lap in qualifying, it was the best that the car has felt and it showed. It is getting better and better so we are getting closer to the setup we want for the Rolex 24.” MacNeil is set for double duty. In addition to preparing for the 24, he will drive in a pair of 30-minute Ferrari Challenge races at Daytona under the lights on Thursday and Friday. “It will be a busy and fun weekend for me,” MacNeil said. “The Evo 2020 upgrade has proven to be a nice next step for this car. The revamped ABS system and the new aero package makes the car a little better to drive.”
Ferrari History At Daytona. Ferraris have raced in all but two of the 57 editions of the Daytona classic, winning overall five times among 16 class victories. Its presence dates back to the inaugural Daytona Continental in 1962, which had nine Ferraris among the 50 starters. Ferrari’s biggest factory effort at Daytona came in 1967, at the height of the Ferrari vs. Ford battle for international sports car supremacy. With Ford sweeping the podium at both Daytona and Le Mans in 1966, Ferrari rebounded with a 1-2-3 sweep at Daytona, led by Lorenzo Bandini and Chris Amon in a Ferrari 330 P4. Other milestones for Ferrari at Daytona include Mario Andretti and Jacky Ickx winning overall in 1972 in a Ferrari 312 PB, and Gianpiero Moretti, Arie Luyendyk, Mauro Baldi and Didier Theys winning in 1998 in a Kevin Doran-prepared Ferrari F333 SP. The most recent class victory for the Marque of the Prancing Horse was in 2014, with Pier Guidi part of the lineup for the Level Five Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italia GT3. Risi Competizione has competed at Daytona since 1998, scoring three runner-up finishes. Alan McNish, Wayne Taylor, Max Angelelli and Didier de Radiguez took second overall in a Ferrari F333 SP in 1999. Ralf Kelleners, Anthony Lazzaro and Johnny Mowlem were second overall in 2003, while Calado, Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella took third in GTLM in a Ferrari 488 in 2017. Scuderia Corsa has been competing in the 24 at Daytona since 2013, when it finished fourth in Series GT with Balzan and Pier Guidi in the lineup. The team also took fourth in GTLM in 2016, with Serra and Pier Guidi co-driving.
Weekend Schedule. Practice for the 58th Rolex 24 At Daytona begins on Thursday at 10:05 a.m. (all times ET). Qualifying is set for 4:15 p.m. on Thursday, followed by night practice at 7:15 p.m. The 24 at Daytona takes the green flag at 1:40 p.m. on Saturday.