The Ford GT and BMW M6 won’t be the only new GT Le Mans cars appearing in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship next year, as Risi Competizione plans to debut the Ferrari 488 GTB in the new-look class.
According to team manager Dave Sims, the Houston-based team is finalizing a full-season, single-car program similar to this years, although the big unknown comes with the car itself, which has yet to officially break cover.
“So far, so good but we don’t know too much about it,” Sims told Sportscar365. “Cristiano Michelotto is going to be here this weekend so hopefully he’ll be able to sit down with us and tell us a little bit more about it.”
Sims said the GTE version of the 488 GTB completed its first rollout in Italy on Thursday, with Risi driver Giancarlo Fisichella set to drive the turbocharged Prancing Horse for the first time next week.
The biggest change from the F458 to the 488 is the powerplant, with the debut of a 3.9-liter twin-turbo V8 engine, which is one of at least three turbo-powered cars set to enter the GT Le Mans class next year.
With the arrival of the new regulations, Sims said IMSA has informed them they’ll start with a clean sheet of paper for Balance of Performance, which the veteran team manager feels will help level the playing field.
“It will be a challenge on both sides for IMSA and us,” Sims said. “But just starting from scratch, it will be a better playing field straight from the word go.
“The turbo is a different [game] altogether. You’re in a different ballpark again. With the turbos, you need a lot of testing.”
Sims hopes to take delivery of their car by November to start an extensive U.S.-based testing program ahead of its competition debut in the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“We’re waiting to see when the first car will be available in the States,” he said. “We’d love to get it testing in America.
“You can test all you want in Europe with the flat surfaces on F1 circuits but you come here… That’s why Audi and Porsche go to Sebring before Le Mans. That’s what we’d like to do with the 488.”
While a season-long effort in the TUDOR Championship is again on the cards, Sims hasn’t ruled out a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year as well.
The team last took part in the French endurance classic in 2010.
“I think there would be a good consideration for it, especially with the 488,” Sims said. “Giuseppe loves going to Le Mans. If we hook up with a good sponsor, we’d probably go for it.”