Connect with us


BALZAN: Lime Rock Park Debrief

Alessandro Balzan reflects back on his GT title-winning weekend at Lime Rock…

Photo: Brian Cleary/GRAND-AM

Photo: Brian Cleary/GRAND-AM

It is impossible to describe all the emotions I am feeling since Lime Rock, the last race ever of in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series.

If I look back, I immediately understand that the Scuderia Corsa crew and I did something really incredible – beginning the season as rookies and ending as champions. I’m proud that we won the driver, team and constructors championships.

It was quite a surprise to read the news on the GRAND-AM website that our main competitors, who had never fielded two cars during the season, would be entering the Lime Rock weekend with double the cars.

More cars, more difficulties… But I was thinking to myself, “You really want this championship, so now it’s time to play.”

After practice, I was happy with the car especially regarding the tire wear which can be a real problem at Lime Rock. I was looking forward to qualifying and the race.

My teammate Leh Keen did a fantastic qualifying run and we were in a very good spot for the race against our championship competitors.

The Lime Rock race was so intense and wild that it was like a movie. At the beginning everything was perfect but in the middle of the race things got very chaotic.

Only 1 minute and 30 seconds into the race is when the big crash of the championship leader No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche happened.

It was hard for me to watch that because I realized how easily your season of such a hard work can be destroyed in 1 second. My co-driver Leh drove an incredible first part of the race. After 45 minutes the team decided to put me in the car to finish the last 2 hours of the race.

I had some hard contact with the car behind me that sent me really off the track and close to the wall. I was lucky to save the car and our championship.

But that was not only that the problem, the first was that the radiator was covered with grass and dirt and for the last 30 minutes, the water temperature was really high and all the warning lights on the dashboard lit up!

It was impossible to stay close to the car in front of me because the water temperature was going up very quickly. The other immediate challenge was that many lapped cars really didn’t make life easy for me while trying to pass.

The team ran a great strategy and the setup of our Nos. 63 and 64 cars was crazy good! Roberto Amorosi, our technical director, has always provided an incredible setup. The Ferrari 458 never had a failure this year. That’s crazy when you think we drove 12 races, one for 24 hours and one 6 hours!

Standing up at the championship celebration at Gotham Hall in New York on Monday in front of such amazing champions was an honor and an accomplishment that I will never forget.

It was an honor for me be part of the awards ceremony and I really feel the passion and the respect that everybody in our racing community has. Incredible.

It was a great party and I enjoyed getting to know some of the other teams and my fellow drivers. The event was awesome and so well organized, and it was very different to see everybody in their suits and ties. I loved being a part of it and especially looking at my new Rolex that was presented to the championship-winning drivers. It was a dream for me.

When I first met the team owner Giacomo Mattioli last year I immediately understood him and was impressed by his approach to motorsports, not only as a fan, which sometimes can be dangerous in running a team, but because he thinks like an entrepreneur.

I think he was not so sure about hiring me, as I had European racing experience but no U.S. experience. But Roberto Amorosi, our technical director, made the connection and I am grateful to him.

And what to say about Giacomo’s partner Art Zafiropoulo – his passion for Ferrari is so engaging! All our crew is not a crew for me. They are my friends. And I am their friend.  This team is like a family.

We made many changes this year because we wanted to always improve, and we did this very well in my opinion.

The latest news, photos and video features from the trusted Sportscar365 web staff.

Click to comment

More in Commentary