Daytona Finale: Ferrari of Washington preview

Daytona Beach, Florida, October 29, 2003 -- For the second consecutive year the Girard-Perregaux/Scuderia Ferrari of Washington Ferrari 360 GT heads into the final race of the season with a strong lead for the championship. In 2002 the team scored...

Daytona Beach, Florida, October 29, 2003 -- For the second consecutive year the Girard-Perregaux/Scuderia Ferrari of Washington Ferrari 360 GT heads into the final race of the season with a strong lead for the championship. In 2002 the team scored Ferrari's first professional GT win in two decades, and took both the GrandAm GT Team and Drivers Championships. The upcoming "Champions Weekend" at the world-famous Daytona International Speedway will determine if they can repeat that success in 2003.

This season has been a good one for the Ferrari team. Drivers Cort Wagner and Brent Martini have a strong record of race wins and podium finishes in their Ferrari 360 GT, a purpose-built racer from the famed Italian firm. The pair is leading the GrandAm Drivers Championship, and the Scuderia stands atop the Team Championship standings.

"We're confident but careful, because we're so close to winning both titles," Wagner explains. "Our performance at Daytona is critical. We're leading the series, but we still have strong competition. We can't afford any mistakes this weekend."

The G-P/Washington Ferrari team wants to win for other reasons too. Wagner and Martini have won the last four races, and a win this weekend would tie the GrandAm record of five consecutive GT wins the team set last year. Those five victories propelled the Ferrari to the 2002 championship, and taking the 2003 titles would prove not only the team's speed, but its consistency as well.

Only one title escaped the Girard-Perregaux/Washington team in 2002. Theirs was the only Ferrari running in the series, and even with their success they were outnumbered for the GT Manufacturers Championship.

It's different this year. Coming into the Champions Weekend Ferrari is leading the Manufacturers standings by only one point, so the Girard-Perregaux Scuderia has brought out some heavy firepower. The 2002 Championship Ferrari had been retired to backup duty with the arrival of a new 360 GT, but it'll be running at Daytona as well, driven by experienced racers Allie Ash and Rusty West. "The second car just doubles our chances," says Team Manager Glenn Marquis. "Both cars have been prepared identically, and we have every intention of winning the manufacturer's title. This would be the first GT Manufacturers Championship ever for Ferrari in North America. It would be an incredible and historic feat, and one which would really mean something to us.

Girard-Perregaux has been the Scuderia's primary sponsor for both the 2002 and 2003 seasons. "Our involvement with the Ferrari 360 GT was a two year program," explains Ron Jackson, President of Girard-Perregaux USA. "We produced a special chronograph commemorating the 360 GT, and almost all of the 360 numbered pieces have already been sold. In the first year our partnership produced both team and driver championships as well as the consecutive wins record. Duplicating that accomplishment this year -- and adding the manufacturers championship -- would be a perfect finish."

Qualifying for the GT cars is scheduled for 10:55 AM EST on Friday, October 31. The GrandAm Championship Race will be shown live on the SPEED channel, from 1:00 to 4:00 PM EST on Saturday, November 1st. Live Timing and Scoring data is also available during qualifying and the race at www.grandamerican.com on the Internet.

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Series Grand-Am
Drivers Brent Martini , Rusty West , Cort Wagner