Trois-Rivieres: Team Olive Garden Ferrari preview

Qu'Est Ce Que C'est "Endurance Racing Luck" Trois Rivières (QC), Canada (July 28, 2003) Last year at Trois-Rivières, it took a little luck, but Emanuele Naspetti and Mimmo Schiattarella enjoyed their ice-cold Coca-Cola on the podium after a...

Qu'Est Ce Que C'est "Endurance Racing Luck"

Trois Rivières (QC), Canada (July 28, 2003) Last year at Trois-Rivières, it took a little luck, but Emanuele Naspetti and Mimmo Schiattarella enjoyed their ice-cold Coca-Cola on the podium after a hot race.

They drove their Team Olive Garden Ferrari 550 Maranello to third place in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GTS category race here. The effort also netted the team eighth overall in the three-hour race. This year the competition has become stiffer. Yet team boss Gabriele Rafanelli and his drivers hope they can recapture a little of that luck to make it to the Trois Rivières podium once again.

"Frankly," Rafanelli says, "It will be very tough for us here this year. Last year we were really down on power but we also had some good luck. This year, thanks to our partners at Elan Power Products we definitely have lots of torque and we have good support from Pirelli, but we don't have the sophisticated traction control system the Corvettes have got. Trois Rivières is a tight circuit on which you need good mechanical grip. While our chassis is much better this year our little Team Olive Garden is up against the world's best GTS entries with huge budgets so we'll need some good luck."

Still, at last weekend's race in Sonoma, California, Rafanelli proved again - in racing, if not in life itself good luck happens when preparation meets opportunity. In Sonoma qualifying, he wisely sent Emanuele Naspetti out almost immediately when it became clear few GT entries were on the circuit. The Veloqx ProDrive Ferraris of David Brabham / Jan Magnussen and Peter Cox / Tomas Enge waited for circuit conditions to improve and the factory Corvettes went out and came back in, considering the track too "dirty" for a lap faster than the ProDrive cars.

Having everything to gain and nothing to lose, Rafanelli called for an ultra-light fuel load and gambled that a better chance for a quick lap would come on a dirty circuit without traffic rather than a crowded but clean one.

Once Naspetti notched his best qualifier, "opportunity" knocked as a GT car accident red-flagged the session, leaving most of the potentially faster GTS entries caught out without serious attempts and Team Olive Garden second on the GTS grid.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Tomas Enge , David Brabham , Jan Magnussen , Emanuele Naspetti , Mimmo Schiattarella , Peter Cox