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Rigon: GTE-Am Cars ‘Faster Than Ferrari’ on Spa Straights

Ferrari searching for straight-line speed at Spa after propping up GTE-Pro qualifying times…

Photo: MPS Agency

Ferrari factory GTE-Pro driver Davide Rigon says the Italian manufacturer is struggling for top-end speed to the point of being matched by GTE-Am cars on the straights at Spa.

The two AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTEs qualified at the foot of their class for tomorrow’s FIA World Endurance Championship race, and more than a second off the pole time despite being quicker on average than at the same event last year.

Rigon told Sportscar365 that while the Ferrari 488 GTE Evo has been strong in the corners, its lack of pure pace is counting against it.

“The balance is fantastic but we are just missing straight line speed,” he said.

“In the second sector, we are closer, but in the first and third sector we are far away. With the Ams, we are struggling actually.

“It was difficult for us to pass them. The Am Ferrari we are able to overtake but the Am Porsche and Aston Martin especially, they are faster than us in the straight line.

“We need to take risks a little bit more. I think we would prefer warmer conditions.”

Rigon suggested that the cold temperatures expected for tomorrow’s six-hour race will discount the Ferrari’s main point of advantage over the other GTE-Pro cars.

“For the race, we are very good at managing the tires but there will be no managing of the tires tomorrow because of the rain and the cold temperatures,” he said.

“So there will be no need for anybody to really manage their tires.”

Rigon’s co-driver Sam Bird felt that the Ferrari drivers extracted the car’s maximum potential and that his own lap was one of his best behind the wheel of the 488 GTE Evo.

“We were discussing, [there was] maybe one tenth or two left if you put every single aspect all together,” Bird told Sportscar365.

“I missed out on a bit of a tow which cost me in a straight line, but apart from that, I’m leaving here tonight a happy boy.

“That’s the maximum I can do. The middle sector was one of the best sectors I’ve driven in a Ferrari.”

Reigning GT World Endurance champion James Calado, who is currently third in the drivers’ points with co-driver Alessandro Pier Guidi, added that Ferrari is “secretly hoping” for a positive Balance of Performance treatment to boost its top-end speed for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

When asked if the low straight-line speeds would be a concern for next month’s season finale, Calado said “yes, obviously.”

“We know it’s a separate balance, but if you look at last year we were quite slow,” explained the Englishman.

“As things have been turning out over time, you never know if you’re going to get something or not.

“We’re hoping, secretly, that we’ll get something. Whether it will be enough, we don’t know.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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