Alessandro Balzan believes Scuderia Corsa’s “reaction” from its early race misfortunes helped deliver Ferrari its second GT Daytona manufacturers’ championship in the last three years.
The No. 63 Ferrari 488 GT3 of Balzan, Christina Nielsen and class pole-sitter Matteo Cressoni hit trouble early in Saturday’s season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans after a collision with the Team Penske Oreca 07 Gibson and a subsequent broken rear axle that sent them behind the wall for lengthy repairs.
While having clinched the drivers’ and teams’ titles by just starting the race, the manufacturers’ title went down to the wire, with its 9th place class finish, albeit 33 laps behind, helping give Ferrari the coveted GTD crown.
The Prancing Horse ended the season just four points ahead of Mercedes-AMG, which entered last month’s round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in lead of the manufacturers’ championship.
“Today, we had issues,” Balzan told Sportscar365. “This is racing. You cannot plan for this. What you can plan is what is next and how to react. I think the reaction was great.
“I want to thank Matteo [Cressoni]. He did an amazing [job in] qualifying.
“It was honestly a great season. I couldn’t have wished for more. If every year is going to be like this, I can sign right now.”
While the No. 33 Riley Team AMG Mercedes of Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Mario Farnbacher took the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup championship with a fourth place class finish on Saturday, Balzan said he’s still pleased with the overall result on the season.
“The target was the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup but that was a little bit hard to achieve,” he admitted.
“Then the team focused on the manufacturers’ championship. We didn’t make any kind of big mistake out there. It was great.
“I’m very happy Ferrari won the [manufacturers] championship again and me, Christina and Scuderia Corsa won the IMSA GTD title.”
Jake Kilshaw contributed to this report