28 luglio 2016
Francorchamps, 24 July – The 68th edition of the Spa-Francorchamps 24 Hours takes place at the weekend on the legendary Ardennes circuit with no-less than 14 Ferrari cars entered to the event. It is one of the biggest races in the world and holds a special significance for Ferrari. Indeed, the endurance race, whose history and prestige ranks alongside the Le Mans and Daytona 24 Hours, saw the birth of the combination of Scuderia Ferrari with the Prancing Horse, which went on to become one of the most recognised brands in the world. The mother of First World War hero Francesco Baracca suggested it to Ferrari: “It will bring you luck,” she thought.
Good start. And that symbol really brought luck to Ferrari, which was not yet a carmaker, but just raced some Alfa Romeo machines under the Scuderia banner. The Spa 24 Hours of 1932 thus saw two Alfa Romeo 8C 2300s with the black horse on a yellow shield. The winner was car no. 38 driven by Antonio Brivio and Eugenio Siena, which finished ahead of teammates Piero Taruffi and Guido d’Ippolito. The Alfa Romeo of Scuderia Ferrari also won the 1936 edition with the 8C 2900A of Raymond Sommer and Francesco Severi.
Incredible entry list. A look at the 65-car-strong entry list shows that no fewer than 29 cars have a fully Pro line-up. Of those 29 cars - representing nine different manufacturers – two are Ferraris. On the No. 50 AF Corse 488 GT3 there will be Pasin Lathouras, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Michele Rugolo while on the No. 90 AF Corse 458 Italia GT3 Ezequiel Perez-Companc, Raffele Giammaria and Alessandro Balzan will be competing.
Pro-Am Cup. In the Pro-Am Cup, Polish driver Michal Broniszewski has been dominating the category since the start of the season and with his various team-mates the No. 11 488 GT3 Kessel Racing driver has claimed five wins out of six races. “Broni” won the three Sprint Cup events and claimed top spot in the endurance races in Monza and Circuit Paul Ricard as well. Only in Silverstone he did not finish on the podium, when he was eighth. In the standings, Broniszewski now has an 88-point advantage over his nearest real competitors Morgan Moullin Traffort and Jean-Luc Beaubelique. Giacomo Piccini is 62 behind, but shares the car with Broniszewski so the Polish Ferrari-driver only needs a handful of points in Spa-Francorchamps to be certain of the 2016 Pro-Am Cup win. In the same class Broniszewski will find a fierce opposition, including seven Ferraris… AF Corse will field two 488 GT3: the No. 52 for Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin, Aaron Scott and Riccardo Ragazzi and the No. 53 for Motoaki Ishikawa, Lorenzo Bontempelli, Giancarlo Fisichella and Olivier Beretta. Then there will be the No. 34 Scuderia Praha 488 GT3 for Jiri Pisarik, Josef Kral, David Fumanelli and Matteo Malucelli; the No. 40 Easy Race 488 GT3 for Ferdinando Geri, Daniel Mancinelli, Gregory Romanelli and Niccolò Schirò and the AT Racing 488 GT3 for Francesco Castellacci, Piergiuseppe Perazzini, Marco Cioci and Thomas Flohr. Two 458 Italias will also be competing, both under the Classic&Modern Racing: the No. 41 for Romain Brandela, Timothé Buret, Bernard Delhez and Mickael Petit and the No. 42 for Thomas Nicolle, David Loger, Eric Mouez and Sylvain Debs.
Am Cup. In the Am Cup standings the drivers competing in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup are matching the performances of those only driving in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup. But all that could change in Spa. Stéphane Lémeret - one of the drivers of the Pro-Am Cup winning Ferrari last year - has already taken three wins in the Sprint Cup and is now adding some endurance rounds to his calendar as well. In the Circuit Paul Ricard 1000, the Belgian looked set for a great result with the #49 Kaspersky Motorsport Ferrari, but mechanical problems meant retirement. If Lémeret - sharing the car with Alexander Moiseev, Davide Rizzo and Rui Aguas in Spa - is able to score significant points in his home race, the Belgian looks set for the Am Cup title. Not that it will be easy to beat the competition in the Am Cup at Spa. There are three other Prancing Horses at the start and the Audi, Bentley and Lamborghini teams will do their utmost to make their lives difficult. Talking about Ferrari there will be two 488 GT3s competing in this class: the No. 51 AF Corse of Peter Mann, Matteo Cressoni, Francisco Guedes and Rino Mastronardi, and the No. 333 Rinadi Racing of Pierre Ehret, Alexander Mattschull, Marco Seefried and Rinat Salikhov. On the 888 Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 Italia there will be Niki Cadei, Vadim Gitlin, Liam Talbot and Marco Zanuttini.