LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 8, 2017)- Racing in front of a home crowd and with several guests on-hand, Los Angeles-based Scuderia Corsa took an impressive third-place finish during today’s Grand Prix of Long Beach, the third round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. This would serve as the second consecutive podium of the 2017 season, with the team gaining five positions toward the GT Daytona (GTD) championship, now unofficially second in the standings.
Competing on the city streets of downtown Long Beach, the 1.9-mile circuit served as the first “sprint” race of the season. Having only 100 minutes to maximize their position and avoid mistakes, Scuderia Corsa drivers Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan had a strong challenge on the circuit debut for the Ferrari 488 GT3.
The team managed to gain eight positions during the one-hour, forty-minute event, and on a track notorious for no passing and constant incidents. Christina Nielsen opened up the race by advancing positions in the opening laps, and ultimately running lap times as fast as the leaders.
Utilizing clever strategy with one hour to go, an incredible pit stop would advance closing-driver Alessandro Balzan two positions for his race-ending run. Engaging in a close fight for the final podium spot, Balzan would fight wheel-to-wheel throughout the final 50 minutes, when with five minutes remaining he would seize an opportunity headed in to the treacherous Turn Nine; out-braking his competitor and solidifying their podium position.
For Christina Nielsen, bringing a trophy home just a few miles from her home is the result of a total team effort.
“I can’t take any credit for today,” stated Nielsen. “This credit goes entirely to Scuderia Corsa and Alessandro Balzan, they were totally my heroes today. How they executed, it’s just unbelievable what they did. They keep creating magic, every time I would think ‘you can’t do this,’ they make it happen. They kept telling me I was running lap times as fast as the leaders, but you just can’t pass. Huge props to Alessandro and the Scuderia Corsa guys, that was just badass.”
For driver Alessandro Balzan, an incredible fight throughout his stint was awarded with a podium.
“It feels like a win,” stated Balzan. “It’s been a while since I had to fight so hard. The car ahead was very strong after every re-start, but they made a small mistake coming out of Turn Eight, so I broke as late as I could going in to Turn Nine, there was a little contact but it was great racing. I had a lot of fun and I’m very happy to take a podium for the Scuderia Corsa home Grand Prix.”
For Scuderia Corsa team owner Giacomo Mattioli, a podium position feels very much like a victory.
“It was a fantastic day,” stated Mattioli. “To start in p11 and finish on the podium is the best we could possibly ask for. Great job from the drivers and crew during the pit stops, this was a great boost for our championship. We had a lot of guests today, it was a lot of fun to have them with so much support and so many friends, and we’re happy to deliver a podium for them.”
With the “sprint” season fully under way, the team will head East for Round Four at the world-famous Circuit of the Americas, driving on the same circuit as the Formula One World Championship during the United States Grand Prix. Practice will begin on Friday, May 4, with the race taking two days later on Sunday, May 6.
About Scuderia Corsa
2016 IMSA GTD Champion, 2016 24Hours of Le Mans GTE-Am winner, 2016 6H of Watkins Glen Winner, 2016 12H of Sebring Winner, 2016 Pirelli World Challenge GTA Champion, 2015 24Hours of Le Mans Podium, 2015 IMSA GTD and 2013 Grand-AM GT championship-winning team Scuderia Corsa was founded in 2013 by Giacomo Mattioli and Art Zafiropoulo. Follow Scuderia Corsa on Twitter @Scuderia_Corsa, on Facebook at Scuderia Corsa, Instagram at #Scuderiacorsaferrari and ScuderiaCorsa.com
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Picture Credit to Bob Chapman, Autosport Image