Ferrari GT Victorious at Laguna Seca Raceway
September 14-17, 2017: The Continental Tire Grand Prix held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was a weekend full of professional road racing at its most competitive level. The “WeatherTech Challenge”, IMSA’s top race series, was the backdrop for allowing the Ferrari 488 to prove itself in no less than two different classes, why it is such a competitive platform.
In the world’s preeminent production based class “GT Le Mans” (GTLM), the multi-car factory backed teams (Corvette, Porsche, BMW and Ford) were stunned when Ferrari factory driver Toni Vilander grabbed his first WeatherTech Championship pole behind the wheel of the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE. Founded by Ferrari dealer Giuseppe Risi, the Houston based team had not earned Pole honors since 2014, making it a long overdue celebration. In Sunday’s 250 mile race, Vilander and teammate Giancarlo Visichella would lead 73 of the 110 laps covered in the GTLM class, but came up just 0.152 seconds short to take the class win.
In the larger GT Daytona class, the slightly less powerful No. 63 Ferrari 488 GT3 of Scuderia Corsa, a team backed by Beverly Hills Ferrari co-founder Giacomo Mattioli, proved that winning an endurance race is all about patience. The driving team of Alessandro Balzan and Christina Nielsen drove a consistent race and grabbed the lead with only 5 laps remaining. The Balzan/Nielsen duo took the class win making it their seventh podium finish this year. They head to the season finale “Petit Le Mans” at Road Atlanta 26 points ahead of the Mercedes piloted by Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating. As long as they satisfy the minimum drive-time requirements, they will earn a second GTD championship and the team’s fourth IMSA title. To Scuderia Corsa, Cavallino says ”Buona fortuna!”
Info and Images from your reporter on site Rex McAfee.