Team Olive Garden Adds Max Papis To Petit Le Mans Lineup Nothing But Top Italian Drivers In Olive Garden Ferrari 550 Maranello At ALMS Finale Orlando, Fla. (August 15, 2002) - Team Olive Garden boss, Gabriele Rafanelli today announced that...
Team Olive Garden Adds Max Papis To Petit Le Mans Lineup
Nothing But Top Italian Drivers In Olive Garden Ferrari 550 Maranello At ALMS Finale
Orlando, Fla. (August 15, 2002) - Team Olive Garden boss, Gabriele Rafanelli today announced that CART star and ex-Formula One driver Max Papis will make his American Le Mans Series (ALMS) debut driving for Team Olive Garden and Coca-Cola in the Petit Le Mans event, October 10-12. Papis will join Team Olive Garden's regular pilots, Domenico "Mimmo" Schiattarella and Emanuele Naspetti in the 10-hour endurance race which is the crown jewel of the ALMS Championship.
The Italian-born Papis went from Formula One with Team Arrows in 1995, to CART and IMSA in 1996. His sports car record includes a win at the 24 Hours of Daytona earlier this year, driving a Dallara-Judd sports car. In 2000, he also won the sports car division at the Daytona 24 Hours driving with Team Dyson.
Max will actually be gunning for his second IMSA Ferrari win at Road Atlanta, having captured the World Sports Car Championship event there in 1996 driving the MOMO Ferrari 333SP. That season Max took the Ferrari to the winner's circle at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen as well as setting eight IMSA track records. Perhaps best known for his recent CART exploits (and popularity), Papis has 10 CART podium finishes to his credit -- two of them this year -- and he won races at Portland and Laguna Seca last season driving for Team Rahal.
"I'm very glad to join Gabriele and Team Olive Garden in this new adventure. It will be a pleasure to work with Gabriele whom I have known for several years on and off the track, not to mention Emanuele and Mimmo whom I have also known since the beginning of my racing career," commented Papis at the announcement. "While the Ferrari may be Olive Garden green instead of the classic red, I can guarantee you there won't be a more thoroughly Italian racing team this side of Maranello! I believe that Team Olive Garden is one of the world's best independent teams and I think it will be fun not only to fight the Corvettes but also the red Ferrari too. >From the most recent results it looks like Gabriele has found the right ingredients to have a fast and well-balanced car. After winning Daytona this year, I'm looking forward to race at Road Atlanta again where I won my first race for Ferrari in 1996."
Joining Team Olive Garden at Road Atlanta puts Papis on another team as well - the Olive Garden Drive Against Hunger team. Now in its third season, the Drive Against Hunger is a program whereby Olive Garden Italian Restaurants give to the communities in which the ALMS races. For every lap of each race they participate in, the company invites one needy family to their restaurant for a hearty Italian meal. To date, nearly 3100 hungry and needy families have benefited from the Olive Garden ALMS racing program.
While getting a late start to the 2002 season, Team Olive Garden's fortunes have improved steadily with the team capturing third place at the last three races. The three consecutive podium finishes have also netted them three consecutive IMSA Cup awards for the top-placing private team in GTS.