Cetilar Racing’s GTE-Am Ferrari entry into next year’s FIA World Endurance Championship is set to be closely “linked” to AF Corse’s planned two-car factory GTE-Pro effort, according to team owner Roberto Lacorte.
As has been speculated over the last 12 months, Cetilar will switch from entering an AF Corse-run Dallara P217 Gibson in the LMP2 class to fielding a Ferrari 488 GTE Evo in Am.
Lacorte’s move to the Ferrari also marks the next step in his organization’s strengthened ties to both the Italian manufacturer and the AF Corse team led by Amato Ferrari.
Lacorte told Sportscar365 that Cetilar’s 2021 WEC project will run under the AF Corse banner and is set to be considered an extension of the Ferrari factory program, similar to how Paul Dalla Lana’s GTE-Am entry is an official Aston Martin Racing effort.
Ferrari has already confirmed its intentions to return with two AF Corse cars in the GTE-Pro class next season, while AF also supports Ferrari customers in the Am division.
Aside from bearing the name of Lacorte’s racing activities, Cetilar is also a joint relief product sold by Pharmanutra, a pharmaceutical company that Lacorte works for as its CEO and vice president.
Referring to how Cetilar’s blue color scheme will fit in with the Ferrari design, Lacorte said: “I think the red will become blue and the blue will become red, but it will be the same design as the main [GTE-Pro] car.
“Cetilar Racing will be one of the main sponsors of Ferrari on the Pro cars. Cetilar Racing will sponsor all the official GT programs of Ferrari. The three cars will be linked next season.
“It’s a new way to meet the Ferrari world. We decided to support Ferrari Competizione GT with the two GTE-Pros and our GTE-Am.
“Thanks to the work that Amato did with Ferrari: he created a very important commitment between Cetilar Racing and Ferrari, a commitment of partnership and a commitment of the program with the GTE-Am car.”
Lacorte explained that a combination of AF Corse’s vast experience with GTE machinery and the slowing of LMP2 cars for next year fueled his decision to move away from the prototype ranks.
“I believe that Amato Ferrari, with his structure, will give us the best solution and the best car for the category that in my opinion will be the most important and competitive category in the WEC,” he said.
“I am happy to switch to GTE because the reduction of performance in LMP2 [makes it] not as attractive as this season.
“I like this [current] LMP2. It’s a very fantastic car with great performance at the peak. But it’s a pity to race with a different car that we drove in the last four years.
“The lineup of the GTE-Am is much more competitive and we can do a good job.”
Lacorte sampled the Ferrari 488 GTE Evo a couple of months ago, which he described as a positive experience.
“We did a very interesting test at Vallelunga for two days,” he said.
“I was surprised at how fun and quick this car is to drive. The last time I drove a GT was five years ago, a Ferrari 458 GT3, but it was a completely different car with completely different downforce and huge traction.
“[The GTE] is a different style: with the downforce and a lot of mechanical traction you have to drive very fast in the middle of the corner, not like years ago where the driving style was heavier.
“The new GTEs are very quick in the mid-corner, so it is a fun style that I like a lot. We did good lap times and we reached a good rhythm in a short time.”
Dallara Lineup Set to be Retained
Lacorte expects his co-drivers from Cetilar’s 2019-20 LMP2 campaign – Giorgio Sernagiotto and Andrea Belicchi – to remain with him for the team’s move to GTE-Am.
The trio will also contest January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona for what will be a swansong for Lacorte’s Dallara, and the first appearance of that LMP2 chassis in IMSA competition.
They will be joined by Italian GT champion Antonio Fuoco, although Lacorte suggested that the FIA Formula 2 race winner is not currently set to join the WEC lineup.
“We are ready to start the WEC next season in GTE-Am,” he said.
“I think that the lineup will be the same [as the 2019-20 season] but we have to do some fine-tuning during the first tests that we have in January and February.
“We have a particular program with Amato Ferrari, but with a direct commitment with Ferrari and [Antonello] Coletta, maybe he wants to put their words on the lineup.
“We have to demonstrate during testing what happens, in front of the data we will decide.
“But before all, I want to demonstrate that we can drive as we demonstrated in Vallelunga, that we can drive at a good level.”