Winning both Le Mans, Daytona with Ferrari ‘difficult to even dream’

Pier Guidi and James Calado followed up their historical overall triumph in the centenary edition of Le Mans with a GTD Pro class win at Daytona last weekend, as they took the top spot with Davide Rigon and Daniel Serra in a Ferrari 296 GT3 entered by Risi Competizione.

It was the Italian manufacturer’s first success in the blue riband round of the IMSA SportsCar Championship since Pier Guidi led the Level 5 Motorsports squad to a GTD victory in 2014, and its 17th class win in the history of the enduro.

It also marked the first time Risi and Ferrari won Daytona as a team/manufacturer combination, having been competing actively in the GT classes together since 2014.

Asked what it meant to score victories, class or overall, in the biggest two sportscar races in the world in less than 12 months, Pier Guidi said: “It’s even difficult to dream, and we did it. 

“Actually six months ago, we achieved this amazing historic victory in Le Mans, and now we are back here with Risi and Ferrari to complete another 24, to achieve another amazing success.

“It was a long time that Ferrari is trying to win this race, and to win too easily is quite surprising. They never won together. They won so much together, but never this race. 

“Finally for Giuseppe [Risi, team founder] and Ferrari together, we achieved this victory, we must be all proud of this.”

He added: “I think we deserved this victory. We were also trying a lot of times to achieve this victory. We finished twice second, and it’s a long-time partnership between Risi and Ferrari, and we’ve been with us and with the other drivers very close many times, but never been able to achieve this victory.

“Finally we get it. If you see in the footage after the checkered flag, the picture is amazing. Everyone was crying, happy, and I went and I give a big hug to Giuseppe, because all the passion he put in here in this effort, he really deserved this.”

#62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 296 GT3: Daniel Serra, Davide Rigon, Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

#62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 296 GT3: Daniel Serra, Davide Rigon, Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado

The Risi Ferrari led various stages of the twice round-the-clock enduro, with Calado’s move over the #1 Paul Miller BMW M4 GT3 of Neil Verhagen in the 20th hour strengthening its bid for victory.

A long brake pedal for the BMW and a poorly-replaced right-front rotor, which forced Verhagen’s team-mate Sheldon van der Linde to make a second unscheduled pitstop, then put the Risi team out of reach of its nearest rival.

The #62 Ferrari eventually won the race by a full lap over the #99 AO Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, with the #1 BMW ending up third.

Calado, who has also scored two victories at Petit Le Mans with Risi, described the double triumph as an “amazing achievement” for himself and Ferrari.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s two big sportscar races, and to tick both of them off in a short period of time is obviously an amazing achievement,” said the British driver.

“It’s really down to Ferrari and the team and Risi for this weekend, and of course for Le Mans. The whole group together with the drivers is amazing, and to be part of that, I feel very lucky.

“Yeah, this race was pretty much how we wanted it to go. The car was great to drive, the balance, and the performance was definitely a lot better than last year.

“To get that win for Risi and especially for Giuseppe like Ale said, I’m proud for him because he’s wanted that for a long time.”

Ferrari has expressed no interest in competing in IMSA’s GTP class in the near future, despite LMH cars like its 499P being allowed to compete in the category as part of a rules convergence with the World Endurance Championship.

However, some have considered the possibility of a semi-works effort fronted by Risi, given their long and successful collaboration on both sides of the Atlantic.

Pier Guidi says it will be a “dream come true” if he gets a chance to fight for outright wins at Daytona in a Ferrari 499P.

He added: “I really would like to compete in the GTP class here and let’s see. Of course it’s not — the game is not in our hands. We cannot decide anything. But I would be really happy.”

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