After having dipped its toes into the water in last month’s round at Sonoma Raceway, Scuderia Corsa is now preparing for expanded program in Pirelli World Challenge for 2015.
The Los Angeles-based organization, which currently fields Ferraris in both the IMSA-sanctioned TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Ferrari Challenge series, is poised to add at least one full-season 458 Italia GT3 to the roster in the growing sprint race GT championship.
Speaking to Sportscar365, team principal Giacomo Mattioli revealed they are in negotiations with three “serious parties” that have expressed interest competing in World Challenge, including Mike Hedlund, who scored a career-best fourth place finish at Sonoma last month.
“There’s definitely a lot of interest in World Challenge,” Mattioli told Sportscar365. “It’s mainly due to the format of the championship, with it being sprint races and you don’t have to share the car with anybody, and also the budget.”
Current full-season budgets in World Challenge are nearly one-third of what’s required to run the same car in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GT Daytona class, largely due to the significant increase in running time the endurance series presents.
Mattioli, however, has praised IMSA for its recent move towards embracing full FIA GT3-spec machinery in GTD, beginning in 2016, which will help close the gap and increase the likelihood of teams competing in both series with the same car.
“GT3 is the right platform,”he said. “I’m glad to hear IMSA is moving in that direction too. I think that GT3, as a team owner, it’s the ideal platform because it lets you compete in different championships worldwide.
“You can go race Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bathurst, the Nurburgring 24. It’s a great platform that we’re happy to fully embrace.”
Scuderia Corsa currently sits fifth in the TUDOR Championship GTD standings, with Alessandro Balzan and Jeff Westphal delivering two wins this season in the No. 63 Ferrari, the team’s only full-season entry.
Mattioli said there’s a 50/50 chance for the Brazilian-backed No. 65 car to return for Petit Le Mans, possibly alongside the No. 64 Ferrari as well, which hasn’t raced since Detroit in May.
“I think there’s a serious interest in the North American Endurance Cup but when you go down to a full-season in GTD, it becomes very challenging because of the budgets required,” he said.
“We haven’t figured out the budgets yet with one race less [for next year], but obviously we have long races in the [TUDOR Championship] and there’s a lot of them. So it’s a major impact on the maintenance costs of the car.
“With the current BoP, the Ferrari is very penalized. It doesn’t sit well as people are wondering if it’s going to be a competitive package [next year]. The car is very competitive in World Challenge.”
Despite some lingering questions, Mattioli has reaffirmed his team’s commitment to the TUDOR Championship in 2015 with the return of at least one full-season GTD-class Ferrari.
Along with the potential of multiple 458 GT3s competing in World Challenge, as well as its popular Ferrari Challenge program, Mattioli has been pleased with the growth in the last 12 months, which has also seen the team move into a brand-new 16,000 sq. ft. shop in Van Nuys.
“We are definitely expanding the team and have very good technical staff,” he said. “We’re definitely going to be able to serve more clients next year, so we’re looking to have the three programs for the full season next year.”