DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 29, 2017)- After a commanding performance during the 24 Hours of Daytona that saw Scuderia Corsa at the front of the field on multiple occasions throughout the race, the opportunity for a Ferrari 488 GT3 victory would end with just two hours remaining due to a mechanical issue.
While the 24-hour long race is always famous for its challenges both on the cars and the personnel, the 2017 race would prove one of the most unique in recent history, with a constant downpour of rain creating major challenges throughout the night, including a seemingly endless period of caution flags.
For Scuderia Corsa, the real strength of the team would be tested under these conditions, as after leading on multiple occasions during the first half of the race, two separate penalties would send the team down the order during the late night portion, forcing the team to fight their way back on to the lead lap under not only constant rain, but a long series of caution periods that would delay their ability to regain lost ground.
After a long night of strategic pit stops, quick pit work and hard driving, when the dawn rose on Sunday morning, and the final hours of the race embarked, the team’s ability to overcome the night’s challenges prevailed. When the sun returned, Scuderia Corsa’s fighting spirit showed as the No. 63 would return to the lead lap, driving their fastest laps of the race in the process and breaking in to the top-five.
With four hours remaining, the stage was now set to fight for the lead on a level playing field.
Continuing the ascension back to the top, the No. 63 would continue a commanding performance that they’d managed all race, advancing from fifth place to second in a matter of laps, and turning the second-fastest lap of the entire category in the process. By time the race had three hours remaining, the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari was fighting for the lead.
Engaging yet again in a non-stop battle for first place, the car would assume the top spot on lap 547 with just under three hours remaining, pitting five laps later and re-emerging in a nose-to-tail battle to regain the lead, which would eventually happen on lap 556.
Building a 12-second lead with two hours remaining, the entire dynamic of the race would change, as the No. 63 suddenly slowed coming out of Turn Six, developing an issue that ultimately proved to end their event due to a mechanical issue.
After leading early, fighting their way back to the front overnight, and eventually opening up a commanding gap to their competitors in the closing stages, it would prove a tough blow to what had otherwise been a tremendous team effort.
For Christina Nielsen, in search of her first Daytona victory, the emotions were high.
“It’s super disappointing to end a race that you fought so hard for,” stated Nielsen. “After 22 hours we had everything falling to place. We had the team, we had the car and we had the driver line-up. The crew executed well in terms of strategy and pit stops, they set up the car well, everything was running strong even in tricky conditions. It’s sad that it had to end that way, but that’s racing and that’s how it goes sometimes. It’s just extra heartbreaking with events like the 24 Hours of Daytona because they only take place once a year, and that’s what makes them so special. It’s definitely not how you want to start a season, but we have a good record at Sebring, so hopefully we can continue where we left off in terms of speed and the overall package. Hopefully we’ll have a better result there and kick off a good season. I’m really happy with the team, it’s a great chemistry with Scuderia Corsa and it was great working with Sam and Matteo this weekend.”
For team owner Giacomo Mattioli, the trials and tribulations associated with endurance racing are all a part of the challenge.
“I am very proud of the team,” stated Mattioli. “Everyone in the organization was absolutely superb. The drivers put on a great display of their talent, especially in such challenging conditions. We were in a great position to win the race, and a very unusual mechanical issue took it away from us. We know we were the team to beat, and that only motivates us further for the next race at Sebring!”
Scuderia Corsa and the entire IMSA championship will resume in seven weeks’ time at the famed 12 Hours of Sebring, with practice beginning on Thursday, March 16, and the 12-Hour race taking place on Saturday, March 18. Live television coverage will take place on FOX Sports 1 on March 18 at 12:30PM ET, broadcast until race end at 11:00PM ET. International coverage will be available non-stop on imsa.tv.
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