Ferrari increases engagement in GT World Challenge Europe
The crews that will be racing in the GT World Challenge Europe at the wheel of the 488 GT3 Evo 2020 have officially been announced, ahead of the opening round that will take place on 25 and 26 July at Imola. The second season of the series again offers an eight-stage calendar alternating endurance races (Endurance Cup) and sprint races (Sprint Cup).
In the endurance races, there will be two Ferraris in the Pro class, AF Corse no. 51 and SMP Racing no. 72. The 488 GT3 Evo 2020 deployed by the Piacenza-based team will field a new line-up of official Ferrari Competizioni GT drivers, Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Nicklas Nielsen.
“I am happy to be back in an important GT3 car championship with an official crew”, said Pier Guidi, “It will be a special season, starting with a 24 Hours of Spa at an unusual time, but we all want to kick off again and get back to driving. Expectations are high, but we are not going to funk it”. James Calado, his teammate in the FIA WEC, echoed his comments: “I am totally thrilled to be racing with Alessandro and Nicklas, who, despite being young, has already shown his speed. Obviously, we are there to win because this must be your aim if you race for Ferrari. I can’t wait to get back to driving and hit the track at Imola”.
Nicklas Nielsen is ready for this new challenge, making his first appearance alongside the two winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2019: “It is special for me to race with two drivers as experienced and fast as James and Alessandro. It will be an incredible opportunity to learn from them. For me, this is a great opportunity, and I can’t wait to start this challenge because I believe we have all we need to be competitive”.
Out to settle a score, the SMP Racing crew includes the Russian Sergey Sirotkin, who previously drove a Williams in the Formula 1 2018 world championship. He joins official Ferrari Competizioni GT drivers, Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina. After just missing out on the title in 2019, the Russian team is seeking payback. “I am delighted to be taking part in the championship after having lost by one point even though we gave it our all on that occasion”, said Davide Rigon. “We are very keen to do well, and I am pleased to find Miguel at my side again and intrigued to see Sirotkin making his debut in the 488 GT3. We’ll do all we can to help him be fast from the very first sessions. We want to have a good championship and give it our best, hoping that this time the results will go our way”. Miguel Molina spoke similarly: “I’m glad we can take part in the GT World Challenge again this year. Last season, despite excellent results, we lost by one point, so we want to win it. Davide and I know each other well, and we’ll try to help Sergey quickly find the right chemistry with us and the car. We know he’s very fast and so I’m looking forward to the Imola race”. “I am happy to spent this racing season in the GT World Challenge Europe in the Ferrari 488 GT3”, said Sergey Sirotkin. “I am very motivated to be a part of the SMP Racing crew together with my teammates Miguel Molina and Davide Rigon and achieve the highest results. After first tests I’m very happy with our relationship with the team of our car no. 72. I received first impressions of the Ferrari 488 GT3 and now I’m confident in my quick acclimatization to the new series. Hope, we’ll be able to fight for the highest places right from the first race. I thank SMP Racing, Ferrari and AF Corse for this opportunity to continue my racing career. That’s another one step in my achievement the long-term goals”.
Four crews in the Pro-Am class will compete in both the Endurance and Sprint Cup. Reigning champions Andrea Bertolini and Louis Machiels will once again be AF Corse’s top crew and will, as usual, be joined in the Endurance Cup by Niek Hommerson.
“Finally we’re starting again and doing it from Imola is special for me. Imola is a fast, technical circuit with few overtaking opportunities but it is well suited to the 488”, commented Bertolini, official Ferrari Competizioni GT driver, “For the eighth year in a row I will be pairing with Louis, and we want to defend the title won last year also with the contribution of Niek”. The Tempesta Racing duo, Chris Froggatt and Eddie Cheever III, also look promising. They will have the support of Jonathan Hui for the endurance races. Daniel Keilwitz, Rino Mastronardi and Pierre Ehret will only compete in the Endurance Cup with the 488 GT3 Evo 2020 of Rinaldi Racing.
The German team won the last 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in the Am class with Christian Hook, Alexander Mattschull, Manuel Lauck, and Hendrik Still.