The legendary 24 Hours of Nürburgring kicks off this weekend featuring three Ferrari 296 GT3s. Two teams and as many 296 GT3s will take the field at the Circuit of the Americas – COTA for the third round of the GT World Challenge America. In Italy, the Endurance season of the Italian GT Championship begins at Pergusa.
24 Hours of Nürburgring. A 136-strong field will line up for the start of the fifty-first edition of the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, with three 296 GT3s representing the Maranello manufacturer. In the SP9 Pro class will be the number 30 of Frikadelli Racing, which has already shown its ambitions by winning the Qualifying race for the 24 Hours last April, also claiming the first overall triumph for the 296 GT3. Beating the competition will be no easy task in such a demanding race with such a crowded starting grid and crews divided into numerous categories, also in light of the changes imposed by the Balance of Performance which penalised the German team’s car. Taking turns in the car will be David Pittard, Felipe Laser, Nick Catsburg and Earl Bamber.
The SP9 Pro Am class will feature the other two Ferraris: Racing One’s number 19 entry with Christian Kohlhaas, Stefan Aust, Luca Ludwig and Johannes Stengel and WTM by Rinaldi Racing’s number 20 crewed by Leonard Weiss, Jochen Krumbach, Daniel Keilwitz and Indy Dontje.
The weekend gets underway on Thursday with the first two timed sessions, while Q3 is scheduled for Friday from 1.30 p.m. to 2.45 p.m. and Top Qualifying from 5.30 p.m. to 7.15 p.m. The race is set to start on Saturday at 4.00 p.m. finishing 24 hours later. All times are local.
GT World Challenge America. Two teams and as many Ferrari 296 GT3s are expected at the Circuit of the Americas – COTA over the weekend of 21 May when the 5.515-kilometre, 19-turn Texas track will host round three of the GT World Challenge America.
Pro Class. Alessandro Balzan and Manny Franco share the No. 21 Conquest Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 for the weekend, which features a pair of 90-minute races. Conquest has opened the season with speed and consistency, finishing second in the Sunday race during the first weekend of the 2023 at Sonoma Raceway, and then taking second in the Saturday round in the most recent event at NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans.
Pro-Am Class. Ryan Dalziel and Justin Wetherill return in the Pro-Am class, sharing the No. 33 Triarsi Competizione Ferrari 296 GT3. They finished ninth and 11th in the class at Sonoma Raceway, and recovered from an incident in testing to place 10th in both races at NOLA.
Official action at COTA opens with practice on Friday at 10 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. Qualifying begins Saturday at 9 a.m. for the Race 1 starters and 9:20 a.m. for the Race 2 starters, with Race 1 following at 3:10 p.m. Race 2 will takes the green flag Sunday at 2:15 p.m.
CIGT. The Italian GT Endurance Championship is set to kick off in Sicily, at the Pergusa track with a single two-hour race format. In the main class – the GT3 – Ferrari will be present with two 488 GT3 Evo 2020s: one will be driven by Scuderia Baldini with former Formula 1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella and young Tommaso Mosca at the wheel, while the second will sport the AF Corse colours and will feature Belgian Jules Castro, already a protagonist at Misano in the Sprint series, alongside Eliseo Donno, leader of the Trofeo Pirelli standings in the Ferrari Challenge Europe, as well as Stefano Gai, GT3 Endurance champion in 2019.
In the GT Cup, the class reserved for the single-marque cars, Best Lap will entrust a Ferrari 488 Challenge Evo to Simone Patrinicola and Luca Demarchi, previously on the track at Misano in the Sprint series, and Sabatino Di Mare, coming from TCR Italy. Drivers Ciccio La Mazza, Manuel Menichini and Francesco Atzori, meanwhile, will be involved with the SR&R Team.
The programme will open on Friday with a four-hour free practice session, continuing on Saturday with three more one-hour free practice sessions, followed by qualifying from 5.20 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. The race will kick off on Sunday at 12.30 p.m. All times are local.