Ferrari looks for another Daytona win, 50 years after 1-2-3 finish

Photo courtesy of Ferrari
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Ferrari has three cars entered for today’s 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona, with the possibility two of them could live up to Ferrari’s 1967 1-2-3 overall sweep at the race, 50 years later.

Lorenzo Bandini and Chris Amon shared a Ferrari 330 P3/4 Spyder to win that race that day, finishing ahead of Ludovico Scarfiotti and Mike Parkes in a Ferrari 330 P4 Coupé by three laps (666 laps completed to 663).

A Ferrari 412 P finished third to complete the trifecta. Photos of that are below, courtesy of Ferrari.

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Ferrari can’t get a 1-2-3 on this occasion because the three cars are split between one in the GT Le Mans class, and two in the GT Daytona class. But the odds are good one of them could break through.

No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE. Photo courtesy of IMSA
No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE. Photo courtesy of IMSA

Risi Competizione enters this year’s race after having had a year now with its new Ferrari 488 GTE and off the heels of winning the 2016 season finale, Petit Le Mans. The trio of drivers, Toni Vilander, Giancarlo Fisichella and James Calado, are back and will roll off from fourth in the GTLM class.

“There’s so much emotion and effort that goes to a 24-hour race, that at the moment, I don’t have space in my mind for the numbers,” Vilander told NBC Sports. “Yes we had a strong run at Le Mans, but it was a bit up and down. IMSA we were struggling but had a huge effort to have the Risi car at Le Mans.

“Here, we feel quite well prepared. Pace-wise we’re quite confident and the car is running well. There’s been quite a lot of wind. It keeps changing a lot, and keep chasing quite a lot, so overall the decisions are done based on the experience of test days. We’re pretty confident.”

Meanwhile in GT Daytona, the No. 51 Spirit of Race and No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3s line up first and second. Alessandro Pier Guidi, a past Rolex 24 winner, secured the class pole. Meanwhile Giacomo Mattioli’s Scuderia Corsa team is in search of its first Rolex 24 win, to add that mark to its past championships in class.

The previous generation Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 won Ferrari’s most recent Rolex 24 victory in 2014, coming with Level 5 Motorsports’ lineup of Pier Guidi, Scott Tucker, Townsend Bell, Bill Sweedler and Jeff Segal.

Pier Guidi shares his car with Davide Rigon, Maurizio Mediani, Peter Mann and Rino Mastronardi. Scuderia Corsa fields a stronger lineup of Alessandro Balzan, Christina Nielsen, Matteo Cressoni and Sam Bird, the latter making his first ever start in a GT3 car.

No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3. Photo courtesy of IMSA
No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3. Photo courtesy of IMSA

“It’s been great. I’m with a super team in Scuderia Corsa, who’ve been really good to me. I’m delighted to be a part of their lineup. It’s been a competitive car. I’m very much enjoying the experience,” Bird told NBC Sports. The talented Englishman races full-time in both the FIA World Endurance Championship in an AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE and in the FIA Formula E Championship.

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing
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Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

A Ganassi spokesman said the team hopes to run its second entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans but only its WEC team is confirmed (an AOC invitation would be required for the IMSA team). The team also is exploring options but currently plans to have the WEC’s team base of operations in Indianapolis.

Ganassi is the first American-based prototype team to confirm its entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s expected that Team Penske, which raced this year’s Le Mans with a full-time WEC entry in LMP2, also will race Le Mans with Porsche’s new LMDh car that is set for IMSA, but the manufacturer has yet to confirm its driver and team lineup.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.