Nicola D’Aniello has nurtured a passion for Ferrari since he was a child and this year, his dream of racing a Prancing Horse car has become a reality. He has many sporting projects on the back-burner, with an eye on the Spa 24 Hours and Le Mans. All this, and much more, goes to make up the Italian-Belgian driver who debuts in the Ferrari Challenge Europe at Spa-Francorchamps in the colours of Garage Zénith - Ecurie Francorchamps. “Being here racing at the wheel of a Ferrari is a childhood dream come true for me,” he tells us between sessions at the Ardennes circuit. “My parents are Italian, my father from Avellino, and they moved to Belgium, where I was born. My father passed on his passion for the Prancing Horse to me as a child. He would watch Formula 1 races on TV and buy all the models. I now live in Luxembourg and work here in Belgium, where I have also been president of the Ferrari Club Belgium for ten years. But I’m often in Italy. I’m building a house in Castelvetro di Modena and always drive around in my Ferrari.”
From model cars as a child, you’ve moved on to driving cars…
“Yes. When I told my father in 2007 that I wanted to buy a Ferrari, he said, ‘If you can, do it’. I think he felt proud of it and certainly also of my experience on the track, although, unfortunately, he can only see it from on high. So from 2008, with my first Ferrari, which I still have, the 430 Scuderia, I embarked on a series of training sessions at Fiorano, also with legends such as Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso, plus many instructors, many of whom I meet here again.”
What brought you to the track this year in an official competition?
“I have known Giammarco Marzialetti for years. I went to see him race, and from there, I decided to join him in this experience behind the wheel. I debuted with him this year in the Italian GT Championship, first at Misano in May, then Monza, and in a fortnight, we’ll be at Mugello. Besides two 25-Hour Fun Cups here at Spa in 2015 and 2016, a special 25-hour race on this track, I have no other experience with official races, so I have much to learn.”
Also, because your goals are ambitious, aren’t they?
“Of course, in the meantime, we’ll continue in the Italian GT Championship in 2024 and the Ferrari Challenge, after which I’ll also be at Mugello for this year’s final round. But we are working towards our ambition to race in the 24 Hours of Spa in 2025, and then..”
“And then, maybe, in 2026 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, alongside Giammarco (Marzialetti), who has already assured me of his availability, and possibly two Belgian drivers, to make an Italo-Belgian team. All in Ecurie Francorchamps colours.”
Tell us a little about this project…
“Jacques Swaters founded Ecurie Francorchamps in 1952, and it is world-famous for its yellow-liveried Ferraris. Its history fascinated me and I contacted Swaters’ daughter, who lives in Spain and accepted my proposal to hand over the famous brand to me, which I also hope to take to Spa and Le Mans. For now, I am enjoying these days in the Ferrari Challenge, which is an extraordinary, organised and relaxed environment. Because we are all here first and foremost to have fun. And then to go fast...”