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    The run up to Le Mans: Rinaldi Racing

    Maranello 12 agosto 2021

    One of the teams that seldom goes unnoticed in the championships in which they compete, thanks to the distinctive green livery, is also one of the most respected teams in the paddock. We're talking about Rinaldi Racing, a German team that has been racing with Ferrari since 2013, on a journey that began with the 458 Challenge. To tell us about it is Michele Rinaldi, founder of the Mendig-based team. For Rinaldi, participating in the Le Mans 24 Hours is a crowning achievement, the fulfilment of a goal he has pursued for countless years and finally achieved thanks to the results in the Asian Le Mans Series.

    Let's start with the Asian series that gave you the ticket to Le Mans. How did the idea of taking part come about and how did you prepare for it?

    “It was a gamble during the pandemic period. The year wasn’t good but I told myself, ‘I can’t stand still, I have to move forward’. Hence the idea of trying to take part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I presented the project to one of our longest-standing clients, Pierre Ehret, who welcomed it. We immediately started working to prepare for the Asian Le Mans Series, structuring the team and looking for drivers. In that respect we were lucky to be able to work alongside Davide Rigon, who has always been a loyal driver and a very kind, decent person with me. However, our participation had to be based on one key ingredient: passion. I think that all of us who work in the world of racing have lost a bit of it in recent years, because everything has become so competitive and the commercial aspect sometimes seems to have taken over from the sporting and emotional component. I wanted to do something with friends, to achieve a place at the Le Mans and be able to go together. It was a really great experience and we were all so pleased with the result.”

    What does it mean to take part with your team in such a legendary race?

    “For me it's special because I started out as just a small-time mechanic and to be able to go to Le Mans with a team that bears my name is something that makes me proud.”

    How are you going to prepare for this race?

    “As far as preparation is concerned, we've done a lot of testing and have taken part in the WEC 6 Hours of Monza to get the drivers used to the car and the team. We chose Jeroen Bleekemolen, who is always a reliable and quick driver. We teamed him up with Christian Hook, who races with us and who we joked with about the driving shifts. “I once raced at Le Mans and drove 14 hours,” he told us, and I said, ‘Right, if you’ve driven 14 hours before, maybe this time you can do 16!’ Our aim is to compete in the 24 Hours while having as much fun as possible, without forgetting the passion I mentioned earlier.”

    Which is the most thrilling race that you remember? Or two if you prefer...

    “The most exciting races are always the 24 Hours of Nürburgring and Spa, which we also won in Pro-Am and Am classes. It has always been a great thrill because winning is never easy. Races like Spa are awesome; the 24 Hours of Nürburgring is really exciting, as there are so many variables involved, including the weather: maybe at first it’ll be sunny for hours, then it rains and everything changes. My aim has always been to win this race at least once with Ferrari.”

    We have already mentioned that Rinaldi Racing is based on passion. But there is also such great dedication and attention towards your clients. Is it that, or something else that motivates you to race?

    “I started from scratch, I had no money from the family to invest, so I did it all myself, step by step. Since then I have always worked for my clients, putting them at the centre and aiming to make them happy. Those who race with us have to feel part of the family. I think our customers appreciate this and continue with us for that reason. We have always set ourselves targets and, in spite of being a small team, we have even managed to achieve many of them thanks to our passion and humility. It has always been important for me to keep my feet on the ground.”