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Balzan Cleared to Race; “Great Feeling” in Return to Driving

Alessandro Balzan medically cleared to race; completes successful testing comeback…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

Alessandro Balzan said it was a “great feeling” to return to the wheel of a race car, after being medically cleared to race again following a 12-month hiatus.

The three-time IMSA champion turned laps in Scuderia Corsa’s Ferrari 488 GT3 last week in a test at Buttonwillow, one year after undergoing a medical procedure that required Balzan to remain on blood thinner medications.

It forced the Italian out of the WeatherTech-sponsored Ferrari for the balance of the 2018 season, which saw a rotation of co-drivers alongside Cooper MacNeil, prior to Toni Vilander’s signing for this year.

With his medication cycle now complete, Balzan has regained his IMSA race license and clearance to drive again, although currently has no firm racing plans for the remainder of the year.

“The doctor gave me 12 months [of no racing] but he already said in March that I am good to go,” Balzan told Sportscar365.

“I had no races planned so I decided to stick with the 12-month program. It was safer to respect that.

“I have to give a big thank you to WeatherTech and Scuderia Corsa for being very supportive during these 12 months. They treated me like family.

“I hope I can be back in the car [for a race] to say thank you.”

Balzan said he had a positive testing experience in the now-Michelin shod Prancing Horse as he worked with Ferrari and Michelotto on “new things” to help MacNeil and Vilander’s GTD title quest.

“The test went really well,” he said. “We did some mileage on the car.

“We didn’t want to put too many kilometers on the car as it will be very busy here [for the rest of the season].

“It was a great feeling. It was very nice to drive the car with the new Michelin tires as the last time I drove the car was it on Contis.

“We actually did some [setup] work so I hope the WeatherTech Racing and Scuderia Corsa will be competitive here. We always had great history [in Detroit].

“I raced here four times [and finished] four times on the podium. I got a win in 2014 with Jeff Westphal and great results with Christina [Nielsen] in P3 and P2.

“I’m excited, but nervous, to see if they like the car because I feel like I’m really involved [again]. Let’s see what they can do.”

Balzan Targeting End-of-Year Racing Return

While Vilander is confirmed alongside MacNeil for the remainder of the WeatherTech Championship season in the No. 63 Ferrari, Balzan is targeting a racing return, potentially in Europe before the year’s out.

He also didn’t rule out an outing with the California-based team, although as a Gold-rated driver, would be unable to contest next month’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen or the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans alongside Vilander and MacNeil.

“There are no plans yet but maybe I can find something in Europe,” Balzan said.

“I’m working on it. Let’s see if I can have some races over there. I really want to be racing again before the end of the year, that’s for sure.

“Scuderia Corsa is on the same page. Let’s see what the future brings.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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