Ferrari say goodbye to the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza with a seventh and an eleventh place in the Pro class, obtained by AF Corse - Francorchamps Motors’ 296 GT3, courtesy of Rovera-Nielsen-Shwartzman and Pier Guidi-Rigon-Fuoco respectively. Here are the comments from the official Maranello drivers after the first race of the GT World Challenge Europe - Endurance Cup.
Alessio Rovera, 296 GT3 #51: “A weekend of great work by the team. It wasn’t to be taken for granted at the debut with a new car in such a tight championship. Everything worked and the 296 GT3 responded well to the adjustments, continuing to improve over the weekend. It is nimble and balanced and at Monza we were able to take another step forward. There is still work to be done, of course, but we are on the right track. In the GT World Challenge already a couple of tenths-of-a-second can make a difference, but we are up for it. In qualifying we did our best, then in the race we tried to gain as much as possible. We found ourselves behind a group of cars that were less effective on the few straight stretches but had high top speeds on the straight and it was difficult to overtake. Fortunately, I passed at one point and with a clear track I was able to set a good pace and catch those ahead of us. After qualifying the goal was to make a comeback into the points zone. We succeeded and we return from the home race with something useful towards the championship.”
Robert Shwartzman, 296 GT3 #51: “I’m happy with the result, considering that both in free practice and qualifying we were not able to express ourselves at our best, so to finish the race seventh, getting the first points, is something positive. Personally, my goal was to finish in the top ten, so the result was achieved. We made few mistakes: Alessio (Rovera, ed) started by staying out of trouble and driving perfectly, then Nicklas (Nielsen, ed) showed all his qualities. When my stint came, I wanted to avoid any mistakes in the first place, so I had a lot of fun fighting in traffic. Here at Monza, I have seen perfectly what GT racing is all about: I want to understand better how to handle the 296 GT3, I have to get used to the new car which requires a very different driving style compared to the single-seaters, especially when negotiating corners. I will talk about it with my teammates and I hope that next race we will be even stronger. Monza? It was nice to see so many people in the stands and in front of the pits, I heard many of them shouting my name: it was a great thrill and I thank all the fans.”
Nicklas Nielsen, 296 GT3 #51: “Considering where we started from, we had a very good race. Of course, we would have liked to have been faster, but in terms of race pace, especially when we are not in traffic and have a clear track ahead of us, we are not far off. We have to improve and work, that's obvious, after all we are at the start of the 296 GT3 and this was my first race in this car. It is clear that our car is good and, at the same time, we need to get to know it better. It was important to finish the race, gather useful data for development and concentrate on these areas.”
Davide Rigon, 296 GT3 #71: “It was a good race, but tough. We started in traffic and in this championship, it is difficult to get back up if you are in these conditions. Unfortunately, our final position was conditioned by a problematic pit stop because there were too many cars and we were forced to reposition where we used the jacks, losing over twenty seconds. My stint therefore started with our 296 GT3 in the middle of traffic and with no real chance of attacking the others except by taking unnecessary risks. I still managed to gain a few positions but we could have scored more points. The car responded well and we didn't have any major issues, apart from a lack of power due to the Balance of Performance. We as Ferrari also need to improve and we will work together to make progress. From this point of view, we have collected important data to make us more competitive in the next race.”