Ferrari plus Le Mans, a pairing that is back together again after 50 years, as talk turns to history, legend, excitement and adrenalin. Armin Arefpour has many positive feelings, which he reveals as he prepares for round four of the Ferrari Challenge at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
What does it mean to race with Ferrari at Le Mans?
“Le Mans has something extra compared to all the other circuits. Coming here is like living a dream: you walk around the paddock and realise you are at the heart of motorsport. This is the highest level of all. The name itself evokes excitement: you can’t talk about motorsport without mentioning Le Mans. There isn’t a motorsport film that doesn’t refer to Le Mans. When you hit the track, and take the corners and the straight that’s so long you can’t see the end, perhaps battling with other cars on the same line as you, you get a positive adrenaline rush that is a unique feeling. Then, if you’re at Le Mans to race with Ferrari, that’s the ultimate, absolutely perfect.”
What does driving a Ferrari mean to you?
“Ferraris aren’t just cars; they’re a passion, a style. Consider the sound of the engine, whether it’s a V8 or a V12: It’s pure excitement; it’s something unique. The feeling you have when you are at the wheel of a Ferrari is like no other. History also contributes to this magic, the glorious past in F1 with legendary drivers such as Michael Schumacher: an aura that carries you to the heart of the brand.”
What is the atmosphere of the Ferrari Challenge like?
“Unique, we’re a really nice group. I’d say we’re a bit like a family. Some of us have known each other for a long time and see each other once a month, so we inevitably become friends. There’s a lovely harmony between us: clearly there’s rivalry, of course, but it’s a healthy rivalry.”
The Le Mans race, round four of the championship, will run just before the start of the Centenary 24 Hours. How do you feel?
“It’s a dream. It would already be fantastic to be here as a spectator; imagine what it would be like to hit the tarmac in an official race. Of course, I know that we’re one part of the whole with respect to the 24 Hours, but we’re here, we’re here to race. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s indescribable for someone who loves motorsport as much as I do.”
After finishing the Challenge event, you will stay and experience the atmosphere of the 24 Hours as a member of a very special club.
“Ferrari gave me this big surprise, the opportunity to join the Hyperclub, and I jumped at the chance. To be at Le Mans and to race on the Circuit de la Sarthe is already extraordinary, but it’s truly incredible to have the opportunity to experience the 24 Hours with the team, among the mechanics and drivers. I can only thank Ferrari: everything is absolutely perfect.”
You’ll really experience the track for 24 hours because you’ll sleep at the circuit. What do you think about this experience?
“Simply amazing. Being part of the team, sleeping alongside the team members, waking up with them, experiencing the same feelings they experience, such as tension, stress, maybe the joy of victory...it’s something that allows you to close the circle: customer, driver and team member. It’s fantastic to experience all this in a single weekend.”
Besides the Challenge, you also compete in Club Competizioni GT: what’s the experience of this series like?
“I love Club Competizioni GT because it allows me to become familiar with another type of car: the GT3, which is different from the Challenge. I plan for the GT3 series to be the next step after the Ferrari Challenge, so Club Competizioni GT allows me to become familiar with this car. It’s an excellent way to prepare myself. And then again, Club Competizioni GT is like a family – smaller and therefore more intimate than the Challenge, but this too allows you to have some fantastic weekends.”