Historically, the customer is the focus of Ferrari's thoughts and activities, both on and off the track. There have been many attempts to imitate the Prancing Horse's customer initiatives, and behind many of these initiatives, we find the work of Alessandra Todeschini. At Ferrari for twenty-three years, Alessandra has launched or managed some of the Prancing Horse's most successful initiatives, real milestones of Attività Sportive GT, such as the XX Programmes or the Ferrari Maserati Historic Challenge. Today she is head of Competizioni GT, the department devoted to sports customers who race in a 488 GTE or GT3. Her career began in the after-sales service of road cars but soon turned towards the world of circuits and competitions. In particular, Alessandra worked as coordinator in the Ferrari Maserati Historic Challenge championship, one of the most prestigious series for gentlemen drivers. This was the start of her journey within what is now the Attività Sportive GT department, led by Antonello Coletta.
Q: You've had the pleasure of initiating many of the activities that have become a regular part of Attività Sportive GT, such as the Historic Challenge and XX Programmes. How did these initiatives come about?
A: “In 1998 I started supporting the Historic Challenge races, outsourced at the time. When Ferrari decided to bring the activity in-house, I was appointed coordinator. A few years later, in 2002, the Corse Clienti department was founded and included the management of the Challenge Trofeo Pirelli and the Ferrari Maserati Historic Challenge. As part of Corse Clienti, I was also given the task of creating a calendar of events for historic F1 cars, and thus the logo and history of F1 Clienti were born. A couple of years later it was the turn of the FXX Programme, destined to become XX Programmes when the happy owners of the first fantastic FXX joined those of the new 599XX in 2010. On the introduction of the FXX K, I passed on the baton of all these programmes - except for the now concluded Historic Challenge - to Federica Santoro. In the meantime, there was a growing need to create a special structure to support GT racing cars. This is why, in 2014, we founded the Competizioni GT department. This was separate from Corse Clienti although united under the same Attività Sportive GT banner. Don't get me wrong, Competizioni GT wrote the history of our brand. It wasn’t founded at that moment, but that’s when we decided that Ferrari would once more fully run it”.
Q: The Historic Challenge had the merit of bringing extraordinary cars back out on the track. What are your memories of that programme?
A: “So many, and with a touch of nostalgia. I found everything about organising the Historic Challenge wonderful. Firstly, it was my inaugural project as coordinator. Then, the cars were all incredible – to give an idea to anyone who didn't get a chance to see them, we had grids of 30 cars packed with Ferrari 250 LWBs, 250 GT SWBs, 275 GTB Competiziones, 250 GTOs, 365 GTB4 Competiziones, 412 Ps, and 512 BBLMs... The customers were extraordinary, including some of the most influential historic car collectors on the planet. It was a great privilege and a tremendous growth opportunity to handle it”.
Q: Club Competizioni GT takes the legacy of the Historic Challenge and updates it. What are the aims of this initiative?
A: “Club Competizioni GT is the non-competitive programme we lacked. It's also the alter ego of the F1 Clienti open-wheel programme. Just as F1 Clienti brings our historic cars back on track, Club Competizioni GT brings the glorious GT models of the last thirty years to the track. It's another way to be part of the big Ferrari family, and we really care about the fact that it's a Club, a chance to meet on the track with modern and earlier models. It is also a platform that allows everyone to enjoy the extraordinary performance of the current GT model without needing to step into the sporting arena”.
Q: After the first event of the year at Road Atlanta, the pandemic forced everyone to stop. How are you preparing for the restart?
A: “It's true, the whole world stopped, and for a moment we had the impression it would carry on forever. But at the same time we were working on alternative short-, medium- and long-range plans, so in hindsight, we never really lost the connection with the organisation of the programmes. The Club Competizioni GT calendar has seen some major changes and shifts: the Monza date, scheduled for April, has been replaced with a date at Spa-Francorchamps in early September; the Japanese date at Suzuka remains in August, but we will try to organise it remotely for the first time, using our Japanese colleagues, planning virtual meetings with customers during the event; the date at Laguna Seca in July has been replaced with a date at Watkins Glen in mid-October. Basically, a small revolution, but the substance - superb circuits and first-class hospitality service - has stayed the same”.
Q: One of your primary responsibilities is the commercial and sporting aspect of Competizioni GT. Can you explain the advantages of choosing a Prancing Horse car to compete in GT championships?
A: “As Head of Competizioni GT Programmes, I coordinate the sales of our two current models, the 488 GTE and 488 GT3, and relations with sports bodies and promoters of the various championships around the world. Let's say that there are many Championships which would not be considered top-level without Ferrari's presence. The car is not one of the cheapest in its sector but, as well as its excellent performance and handling that immediately makes even the least experienced driver smile, it remains unquestionably the most iconic and, consequently, the one that best maintains market value”.
Q: We often see you on the track, not only in the FIA WEC but also in other championships, following the teams racing a 488. How important is it for teams to feel that the parent company is close to them?
A: “Ferrari closely follows its customers on the racetrack. The customer must know how essential they are for us representatives of our brand and how aware we are that it is also through their competitions that the history of GT races unfolds and tradition is upheld. I feel I have to be present for crucial championship races. This is also an opportunity to explore new opportunities and markets. This year, for example, my season started in Australia in January with the third round of the Asian Le Mans Series, where some of our best Customers Teams were competing at The Bend circuit for the first time”.
Q: What are the greatest challenges you've overcome professionally down the years? A: “To summarise, the challenge is always the same: to receive suggestions from our top management for an activity and translate these into a project, to plan all the aspects and then implement it, coordinating all the various elements and actually creating the product, taking care of everything down to the smallest detail. At first, you always think you can't do it and then at the end you realise that everything is actually working and progressing successfully. It is a great satisfaction to share with your team. Because you can't do anything by yourself”.
Q: Which race do you remember with the most pleasure?
A: “There are so many of them. Maybe the most exciting was Le Mans 2019 when I was really moved. But that's not to forget the battles and the victory in the FIA WEC 2017 World Championship, the wonderful Bahrain track where we were crowned World Champions in a year of enormous changes. I also remember some colourful races in the Historic Challenge, like at Monza in 2004 when a driver entered the pit lane with a car, got out slamming the door and set off in a second gem of his own... A move forbidden by the regulations but, as the driver later confessed to me, he wanted to fully enjoy the opportunity to drive it on that track”.