Rinaldi Racing is one of the new names joining the Blancpain Sprint Series this season. The Michele Rinaldi-led team adds a Ferrari to the mix and might well be a dark horse in the races to come.
While the No. 333 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 of Marco Seefried and Norbert Siedler still struggled for pace in Qualifying, the green machine managed to stay out of trouble in the Qualifying Race to claim fourth on its debut outing at Nogaro on Sunday.
“It was a difficult off-season for us trying to get the budget together, but it’s the same for everyone,” Rinaldi told Sportscar365.
“We’re battling against big teams with a lot of resources and testing at most of the tracks on the calendar. It’s going to be a very difficult task.”
The German squad was originally aiming to compete in the ADAC GT Masters but their Russian backers wanted them to race in Blancpain Sprint, especially given the round in the streets of Moscow at the beginning of July.
“It’s not yet certain we will do the entire season,” Rinaldi said. “Whether we’ll continue might depend on the results and the budget we get, but it’s too early to talk about that now.”
Despite the strong lineup and the encouraging result on Sunday, Rinaldi was still eager to temper the expectations.
“Ferrari didn’t have it easy in this series up until now. The characteristics of the Blancpain Sprint tracks aren’t really a match for the 458. That’s our main problem, but we’ll work on it.
“Seefried and Siedler are two excellent drivers, but that doesn’t make it a lot easier for us.”
Seefried already showed his potential behind the wheel of a Rinaldi Ferrari in the Blancpain Endurance Series (Pro-Am) last year, regularly mixing in between the Pro cars, but Porsche specialist Siedler has relatively little experience with the Italian GT3.
“At the moment we’re maybe half a second off,” Siedler told Sportscar365. “If you compare to other teams who already tested here, we’re not doing too bad.
“There’s room for improvement, but Nogaro isn’t really a Ferrari track. The next races in Monza and Brands Hatch should be better for the 458.
“Marco and I know each other very well. We did the 24 hours of the Nuerburgring with a Porsche and I know him from karting as well. We go back 20 years already!”
Seefried will combine his Blancpain GT program with the FIA WEC and won’t be replaced for the BES rounds at Monza and the Nürburgring, where Siedler will only share the No. 333 with Rinat Salikhov.
Rinaldi might also compete in other races later on in the season, such as the 24H Series, but chances of the team returning to the VLN Series are slim after last weekend’s tragic accident.