IMSA Spotlight: Alessandro Balzan
Driver: No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3
You’ve had a remarkably consistent season so far with only one finish below sixth in the high-competitive GT Daytona class. What has allowed you to be in the mix on such a regular basis this year?
“The very simple answer is that it is the team effort that our team, Scuderia Corsa, puts in every race. No doubt I have one of the best crews out there from pit stops execution to strategy.
“The Ferrari 488 GT3 is a good car at all of the tracks, and Christina [Nielsen] never makes a mistake and always gives me the car in perfect condition.
“Driving the same car for the second consecutive season is a big advantage. We learned a lot from the 2016 season and we are now squeezing everything we can out of the car.”
Despite leading the class points and scoring six podiums this year, the first win of the season has been elusive. How important is it to you to get a win in the final two races, or does it not matter as much if you still win the championship?
“I want to win! We’ve tried hard this year to go for it and we were really close at Detroit and Watkins Glen but the competitors did better than us. So, we need to keep trying.
“Sometimes to win you have to gamble or you have to make a risky overtake, when you are leading the championship that is something that can hurt you really bad if it does not go as planned.
“For me the big picture is always been the championship. I have won nine titles so far in car racing, I would love the 10th.”
What would it mean to you, your co-driver Christina Nielsen, and Scuderia Corsa to win back-to-back GTD titles?
“To repeat a success like the GTD championship is a great commitment. Everyone wants to beat you.
“We are really happy and proud about this season so far. We started with a DNF at Daytona – not the perfect way to start a season – but our fight back for the lead has been great.
“I’m Italian and so super superstitious, I can only say it will be fantastic to win again because we had really big challenges this year on and off the track!
“Right now my 2018 season is not clear and decided yet, so to finish on an high note with the championship win is crucial. I will give my best these last two races and hope to be back next year!”
How does the level of competition in GTD this year compare to previous seasons?
“This year there were several factory programs that debuted. The fact that almost all of the manufacturers except us with Ferrari and the Lexus won at least one event this year give you the idea about the excellent level of drivers, teams and cars that are fighting in the GTD field.
“Lap times are averaging one second quicker this year. I’m not a factory driver so I’m really proud to be able to fight and race against big names and big manufacturers.”
What are your earliest memories of motorsports, and how did your interest in racing begin?
“It’s all my dad Gianni and my brother Lorenzo’s, who is now team manager of the Daman Speed Kart Academy in the Middle east, fault!
“They bought me a go-kart in the winter of 1990 (I’m still young inside) and it was love at first sight and right away the passion of my life.
“Those were the best moments in my career: no pressure just fun. We were traveling all over Italy with an old Fiat van, having no idea one day I was going to live and race in the States.”