On Wednesday afternoon, Risi Competizione made it official that they will field two Ferraris in the Rolex 24 at Daytona later this month. The team’s GT Le Mans-class No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTE will be joined by the No. 82 Ferrari 488 GT3 that will compete in the GT Daytona class.
The GTE contender will be driven by the returning Toni Vilander, who handled testing duties for the team at IMSA’s December test at Daytona. He’ll be joined by Ferrari factory racers Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado. Only Pier Guidi will be on hand to test the No. 62 this weekend at the Roar Before the 24.
Vilander enters the 2018 season without his longtime teammate Giancarlo Fisichella in the fold. Last season, Vilander had five podium finishes in the No. 62, the best of which being a second-place finish at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Calado and Pier Guidi are the reigning GT World Endurance Drivers’ Champions, a title for the best driver(s) in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s GTE-Pro class. That title was earned on the strength of three wins (Nürburgring, Circuit of the Americas and Fuji) and seven podium finishes in nine races.
Both drivers have previously raced for Risi Competizione. Pier Guidi served as the team’s third driver at the Motul Petit Le Mans last October. The team finished third in class. Pier Guidi drove in place in Calado, who missed the race to be present for the birth of his daughter. In three career races with the team, Calado has finished on the podium in all of them with a class victory at Petit Le Mans in 2016.
The GT3 entry will be driven by FIA World Endurance Championship regular Miguel Molina, Santiago Creel, Martin Fuentes and Ricardo Perez de Lara. Molina will be the only driver in the lineup with no previous experience in Daytona. He comes to the team after running full-time in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s GTE-Am class in 2017 for Spirit of Race. Molina (along with teammates Francesco Castellacci and Thomas Flohr) claimed victory at Fuji Speedway and had four podium finishes. For Le Mans, Molina was drafted into AF Corse’s No. 71 Ferrari in the GTE-Pro class alongside Sam Bird and Davide Rigon. There, Molina claimed a fourth-place finish in class.
Creel and Perez de Lara drove together in 2016 for The Racers Group in the GT Daytona class in the Rolex 24. They finished 20th in class. Perez de Lara and Fuentes also drove together in 2013 for Racers Edge Motorsports when the Rolex 24 was under Grand-Am sanctioning. They finished 17th in the GT class in a Mazda RX-8.
It should be noted that chassis-wise, the 488 GTE and 488 GT3 are actually fairly similar. Ferrari’s GT challenger was developed with an eye towards “GT Convergence,” an idea that was under discussion back around 2014 that ultimately fell through. The idea was that GT cars would be made available, then could be built up to GTE standard or built down to GT3-spec. Ultimately, the cars could be converted between the two specs. The Ferrari 488 is the only current GT car that can be converted from GT3 to GTE-spec and vice versa.