Driver Spotlight: Alessandro Balzan
Driver, No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 in GTD
How much pressure do you feel to repeat your championship?
“It doesn’t feel like I’m not repeating a championship because everything is so new. New drivers, new teams, so for me it’s like to start something very new and give me the charge to be more focus. For me, three tracks will be new. Sebring is not so easy to learn but already five days after the championship my mind already said, ‘be ready for the next.'”
Talk about the competitiveness of the GTD class in 2014
“I think we have, for the championship, easily 15 cars that are able to win every race. Of the brands what we have to hope for is a good BoP (Balance of Performance), but I see the driver lineup and I’m so honored to be part of this and to be able to defend the championship with Scuderia Corsa. We now have the best GT class worldwide that has set the competition standard.”
How do you prepare for a track like Sebring, when you’ve never been there?
“I do some simulation work – I use iRacing because it’s very good – and I get some tips from the drivers. Last year we had some drivers that really helped me when Jeff Westphal didn’t know this track but I talked a little bit with the guys and you can find on YouTube, a lot of on-board video and believe me, that helps me a lot. Just for the first lap, to have an idea of what to expect on the track.
How’s your relationship with new full-season teammate, Jeff Westphal?
“With Jeff, we did the first three races last year and scored three podiums so it was a great adventure with him so I’m very happy to have him on board. He’s a very nice guy, very calm; he’s the guy you need on the team.
We hear you enjoy riding bicycles away from the track. Can you tell us a little more?
“Compared to other Ferrari drivers like (Gianmaria) Bruni, who’s like a maniac, I like bikes – but as a pleasure. So when I start sweating too much, I stop! But no, I love biking, road bike, I don’t like mountain bikes because it’s a little bit too dangerous and you can have a lot of injuries. But last year I didn’t have a lot of time because I was always going back from Italy but this year I’ve planned the championship schedule much better so I can have more time to train myself. Because this year, I bought a bike, it’s in the truck. It’s good also, with a bike, to take three or four laps and so you discover the track even better. So it’s a good exercise to go learning and discovering the new race track that I’m on.”