Connect with us


CALADO: Back in the Groove

James Calado files his latest Sportscar365 column following 1000 Miles of Sebring…

Photo: MPS Agency

There was so much time between our race in Shanghai in November and the 1000 Miles of Sebring, it was like starting a new season. Not that I’ve been idle between then and now!

I guess, like at the start of any ‘new’ season, things don’t always go as you want, and that was the case for Ferrari at Sebring.

We finished 4th in the 11-strong GTE-Pro category which wasn’t where we wanted, obviously, but the AF Corse team did an amazing job to get us this half-decent result.

It was great to be back racing in the U.S., somewhere I love competing. The circuit is really special as it’s got so much history and, of course, the famous bumps which – together with the heat – make it a very physically challenging week.

Having said that, we had all ramped up our fitness programs before our visit to Florida, knowing what to expect.

Photo: MPS Agency

We were all a bit worried before we got to Sebring about how it would work having the WEC and IMSA at the same event, but I have to say they really pulled it off. Everything was very efficiently organized, our WEC paddock looked the business, and most importantly the fans loved having us all there together.

The Sebring fans are a little bit crazy but super-enthusiastic and it was great for us all to see so many people there

The only downside was that, between us, the WEC and IMSA drivers were all so busy we didn’t get much chance to hang out or see each other.

Sebring’s hashtag #respectthebumps says it all… if you don’t get the car set up right, or get the line wrong, you can get caught out as we saw once or twice over the week with some of our WEC competitors.

Photo: MPS Agency

Ferrari did a test at Sebring in February and there was also a WEC test the weekend before the race, so we had a good handle on set up by the time practice started.

We knew from the outset that the Ferrari 488 GTEs would struggle to be up there with the Fords and Porsches with a lack of power that hampered us on the long straights, and we seemed to be destined to be 4th all weekend! That didn’t hold

But, with a longer than usual, 8-hour race we also knew we’d be able to play a bit with the strategy.

We chose to attack the race with a very conservative fuel and tire consumption strategy which was why we were running at the back of the GTE-Pro pack in the early stages of the race.

It was all slowly coming together, and we were running in a podium position for quite a lot of the second half of the race, but a downpour 25 minutes from the end and a safety car prevented us from getting third.

Photo: MPS Agency

It was a shame after all the hard work by the team, but that’s racing!

As I said earlier, I wasn’t idle over the winter months and took home a runner-up place at the Rolex 24 at Daytona with Risi Competizione plus, more importantly, the Asian Le Mans Series GTE Championship title.

All this meant quite a lot of time on planes crossing continents, away from my family, but it’s all worth it in the end!

So now onto Spa and then, not long after, to Le Mans. Wish us luck – the Porsches are looking really strong so I think we might need a bit of luck on our side!

James Calado (@caladojames) is a Ferrari factory driver and the 2017 WEC GTE World Champion, driving for AF Corse in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Click to comment

More in Commentary