Cetilar Racing is “turning the page” with its expanded LMP2 program into the FIA World Endurance Championship, which includes a new partnership with AF Corse.
The Italian organization, which is stepping up to the WEC LMP2 class after four years competing in the European Le Mans Series, will run a Dallara P217 Gibson in the upcoming 2019-20 season.
Cetilar has joined forces with the squad behind the works Ferrari GTE-Pro program after several years competing with support from experienced Italian team Villorba Corse.
Team patron and driver Roberto Lacorte, who is the managing director of Italian medical company PharmaNutra that produces the Cetilar joint relief product, told Sportscar365 that siding with AF Corse will help the team to “scale up” going forward.
AF will continue to run Ferrari’s two-car factory GTE-Pro effort and a GTE-Am customer operation alongside its return to LMP2 after five years away.
“I think that we have to turn the page in terms of organization,” Lacorte told Sportscar365.
“We need to scale up the organization and the performances of the team, so we decided to change the services with AF Corse.
“With the partnership with Dallara, we want to develop our LMP2, and with Amato Ferrari’s team we can improve in terms of performance.
“And, for me, it’s a comeback because I started with Amato in the Ferrari Challenge series. This is a long-term friendship.
“Everyone knows what Amato Ferrari can do, because his team represents a key point in racing series around the world.”
Lacorte said that Cetilar Racing will “hold good memories” of Villorba Corse after it gave the team its start in Le Mans Prototype racing.
Villorba Corse brought Lacorte and his long-time driving partner Giorgio Sernagiotto into the formula when the combination entered a Ginetta LMP3 into the ELMS in 2015.
Following the year with Ginetta, Lacorte and Sernagiotto switched to a Ligier JS P3 Nissan before scaling up to LMP2 for 2017.
During two full seasons with their Dallara chassis, the pair and Andrea Belicchi scored a best result of fifth in the 2017 rounds at Monza and Portimao.
“I will hold good memories of Villorba Corse, and I give thanks to them because thanks to them, we are here in LMP2,” said Lacorte.
“[WEC] is one more step for us. Villorba Corse deserves all the best, but we want to change to improve what we can do in another series.
“To be in WEC, we have to improve all the services around the team. I think that Amato Ferrari is ready and able to follow us in this championship and this program.
“We have to look to the future because my aim is to build [on] the experience from the last five years, and I hope that Cetilar Racing will go on for a long time.”
Lacorte feels that, from a driving perspective, the ELMS was the “best step” to prepare for the WEC.
“ELMS is a top-level racing series for LMP2,” he said.
“For example, in the race in Monza [this year] the level of the performances of the teams and drivers was top-level, even more than WEC.
“We know that the WEC is something more, but ELMS remains the best step to do it. I think that if you race well in the ELMS, you are ready to step up.”
Hypercar Ambitions for Cetilar
Lacorte suggested that the AF Corse partnership could put the team in a good position should it pursue further graduation to the anticipated Hypercar top-class prototype class.
When asked about whether Cetilar Racing has looked into the feasibility of a Hypercar project, Lacorte said, “We are staying at the shop window.”
“I think that with AF we can do a higher program in the future. I think that Amato Ferrari can make this idea possible,” he commented.
“I don’t know when because we are looking at the new rules and participating actively to understand how the rules will be, in order to go on with our product.”