Scuderia Corsa has confirmed its two-car driver lineup for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell set to defend their GTE-Am class win alongside Cooper MacNeil, and Christina Nielsen, Alessandro Balzan and Bret Curtis tabbed to drive the team’s second Ferrari 488 GTE car.
It will mark the California-based team’s first two-car effort in the French endurance classic, after securing two auto-invites courtesy of its 2016 class win and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona title.
For team owner Giacomo Mattioli, the invitation to return to the world’s most renowned event is a welcome one.
“The opportunity to bring two Ferraris in defense of our Le Mans victory is a great honor,” said Mattioli. “To debut in 2015 with a podium, and win last year was an absolute dream-come-true.
“To return now with the Ferrari 488 GTE is a brand new challenge that we are all excited for. It’s of course great to see Bill and Townsend back with us for another year, and now with Cooper MacNeil joining us, we should be very strong.
“It goes without saying we had an incredible 2016 together with Christina and Alessandro, and Bret Curtis is a long-time member of the community that we’re very excited to work with. We’re definitely confident for another Ferrari victory!”
For Sweedler, a chance to return to the same team that brought victory last year is one that couldn’t be ignored.
“I’m so excited to return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans and defend our race win along with Scuderia Corsa and Ferrari,” he said.
“Le Mans is such a unique and special place that has the most passionate residents. The city literally shuts down for a week to welcome racers, teams, and fans from around the world into their city.
“I’m truly honored to be able to participate again after two successful years. My hope is that Townsend, and our newest teammate, Cooper MacNeil, can take our collective experience and deliver another strong finish for Scudera Corsa and Ferrari in 2017.”
Nielsen, meanwhile, returns to Le Mans with the same team that took her and Balzan to the GTD title in 2016.
The Dane made her race debut last year in a Formula Racing-entered Ferrari F458 Italia GT.
“It will be great to return to Le Mans with Scuderia Corsa,” said Nielsen. “This event is unlike any other, and one that any driver wants to win.
“Luckily this is the best organization I could be with, and our last year together has been incredible.
“The professionalism, quality of work, and talent on all levels is unmatched, and now that I’ve already experienced the event, I want to go to win.”
Having raced with Scuderia Corsa prior in the Ferrari Challenge series, MacNeil is looking to add a Le Mans victory to his current trophy case.
“I think we are headed to Le Mans with a very strong package,” MacNeil said. “Bill and Townsend won there last year in a Ferrari.
“We will be running a brand new 488 GTE and the Scuderia Corsa team knows the car and knows us as well. I ran with them in the Ferrari Challenge Series, so between us three drivers and the team we already have a great racing relationship.
“This will help us to get right down to getting the car set-up and ready to go for race day.”
For Curtis, hopes are high that his third visit to the famed event could be his best yet.
“I am very excited to join Giacomo Mattioli’s Scuderia Corsa in the most famous sports car race in the world, the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” he said.
“In 2016 Scuderia Corsa jumped to the top of the sports-car world with a GTD title in IMSA, and a GTE win at Le Mans so I am very excited to be racing with the best, and in a Ferrari.
“Additionally, having the opportunity to be driving with last year’s winning GTD duo of Christina and Alessandro is a great opportunity to shine at a great race. I look forward to being a part of a winning effort and having strong result!”