After being one of the standouts in the FIA World Endurance Championship, Ferrari’s Davide Rigon is hoping a new car will help deliver the results he’s strived for since joining the championship full-time more than two years ago.
The 29-year-old Italian driver, who is poised to return to WEC competition alongside AF Corse teammate James Calado, is still seeking his elusive first GTE-Pro class victory, despite he and Calado having had the pace for class victories on numerous occasions in 2015.
The duo finished fourth in the 2015 GTE-Pro championship, dashed by multiple unlucky breaks, including in the season-ending Six Hours of Bahrain, when a loose wheel cost them a likely podium result and the GT manufacturers’ title.
“2015 was a [challenging] year for me,” Rigon told Sportscar365. “I spent a lot of time on the top but for some reason or another, we wouldn’t finish that way.
“We didn’t get the result that we could have gotten. We had a lot of bad luck. I think a lot of times we could have won but we had small things stop us.
“We were very happy with the car and how we were working with the engineer on our team. But a small problem [in Bahrain] destroyed our race.
“For sure, it was not possible to win the last race and a second place was possible, which would have been good enough for the [GT] constructor’s championship.”
Rigon, who took part in a single season of FIA GT in 2008, re-entered the GT scene in 2013 following success in the open-wheel ranks, having secured a coveted seat as a Ferrari F1 test driver.
While having helped lead 8Star Motorsports to the GTE-Am teams’ world title in 2013, Rigon was placed in AF Corse’s GTE-Pro operation the following year, along with fellow open-wheel ace Calado.
After an up-and-down 2014 season, the pairing came alive last year, scoring five podium finishes in eight races — the most out of any car in GTE-Pro — showing their consistency and pace with the tried-and-trusted Ferrari 458 Italia.
“Every race I do, I’m always learning something,” Rigon said. “There’s so much stuff to understand in an endurance championship year by year. I think Gimmi [Bruni] is winning so much because he’s learning every time more and more.
“I still have to learn a lot but now I’m starting from a good page. The good thing is that we now have the experience.
“We’re closer to our teammates Bruni and [Toni] Vilander. We’re working well with the team. If me and James stay together, I think we’ll have a really good chance [this] year.”
Despite still playing an active role in the Italian manufacturer’s F1 program, Rigon sees his future being primarily in GT racing and is hoping to carve out a long-term career in the WEC, in particular.
“I’m doing a lot of tests in the F1 simulator with Ferrari but to be honest, I’m very happy to do WEC and to be concentrated in GT,” he said.
“For sure, it’s good to do some Formula One tests, but here it’s a strong championship.
“ will be tough, with Ford arriving. But we want to be concentrated on our car. We need to win and finish all of the races.”
Ferrari will also arrive with a new car in the 488 GTE, the first turbocharged Prancing Horse to compete in the highly competitive production-based ranks.
Having been apart of the car’s testing and development program, Rigon is optimistic the 488 will be able to deliver the same kind of success as its predecessor, but stresses that a lot could come down to Balance of Performance.
“The car looks good and has some confidence,” he said. “It seems like it adapts very well to my driving style.
“All of the [GTE] cars have more performance because of BoP so it’s starting to feel a bit closer to a formula car. That’s good for me and James.
“We’re going to try to do our best to have a consistent car but a lot will come down to the BoP. We really won’t know until the first race because we really don’t know how it will be [against the competition].”