Alessandro Balzan and co-driver Leh Keen earned a second place finish today that gave Scuderia Corsa the team championship.
September 28, 2013 – Lime Rock Park, CT. The final Grand-AM Rolex race in the series 14 year existence was one for the history books as Lime Rock Park, aka the Bull Ring, delivered the drama and chaos that has become the famed track’s hallmark. When the dust settled, the 2013 series break-out star Alessandro Balzan, in the Scuderia Corsa #63 Ferrari 458, took the 2013 Grand-AM Rolex GT driver championship and with co-driver Leh Keen earned a second place finish today that gave Scuderia Corsa the team championship. The team’s #64 Ferrari 458 sponsored by Ultratech took third place with Jeff Westphal and Johannes Van Overbeek behind the wheel. Scuderia Corsa’s ten top-five finishes including six podiums this season also helped Ferrari earn the manufacturers title.
Scuderia Corsa team principal Giacomo Mattioli on his team’s championship victory in it’s first full season of racing said, “what a fantastic season! It’s been an unbelievable adventure that started last year. All the pieces came together today. The team did an amazing job as they did all season. Alessandro drove a superb race. I’m not sure how many drivers can say they came into Grand-Am as rookies and won the championship.
Technical Director Roberto Amorosi added, “I am extremely happy. We went through a very difficult weekend. A lot was going on during the race, but I’m so proud of the team to win the championship, it’s amazing. Only 14 months ago we talked about forming a team. Thank you to Giacomo because we put together the idea but he invested a lot and I think it was worth all the effort. Thank you to the team and Alessandro. It hasn’t sunk in yet that we won. We look forward to the next year. This is just the beginning.”
Alessandro Balzan, draped in a Ferrari banner added, “for me to be here in the first year with Scuderia and to get the championship is incredible. I think we are going to spend one fantastic holiday next week. The guys on the team deserve it a lot. I want to thank my driving partner Leh Keen who helped me a lot and also our sponsors Motorola, Wide World Ferrari and Ferrari Beverly Hills/Silicon Valley who supported us. Giacomo Mattioli who gave me the opportunity and Roberto Amorosi our technical director who brought me from Italy for our first race. Today’s race was really wild especially the last 40 minutes, but I am the champion, Ferrari is the champion. We cannot ask for more.”
The 2013 season began with a fourth place finish at the 24 Hours At Daytona where the newly formed Scuderia Corsa team led through much of the night showing racing fans and fellow teams that they were a force to be reckoned with. It didn’t take long for Scuderia Corsa, with the young Italian Alessandro Balzan behind the wheel, to live up to that promise. A string of dominant performances followed immediately, putting Scuderia Corsa and Balzan in the top spot for championship points. Over the course of the Grand-AM season’s twelve races, the #63 Ferrari earned six podium finishes and nine top-five finishes.
Today’s final race of the season at Lime Rock Park unfolded with major drama in the first few laps when a slippery track and cold tires took out several GT cars and littered the track with debris. Scuderia Corsa co-driver Leh Keen, a two-time Rolex GT champion, put the #63 in 2nd position on the grid in early morning qualifying and then led the GT pack during the race before handing the well performing Ferrari 458 to Alessandro Balzan on lap 66. Balzan never looked back and stayed in the top three throughout the second half of the race despite being bumped off the track mid-way through his stint. As he has done all year, Balzan showed his consistency, running fast laps and keeping the #63 Ferrari 458 Italia up front and out of trouble.
Co-driver Leh Keen said, “I really have to thank Scuderia Corsa for brining me on board to help. I was a very small piece to getting this championship. Not Balzan small, but super small!” said the ever-modest two-time Rolex champion. “It just goes to show what kind of team they are that in their first full season they win the championship. Giacomo and Roberto brought on me onboard and built this team. They put Balzan in the driver’s seat and he’s done an incredible job all year. And it’s an honor to have them put me in the driver’s seat with Balzan to help him win the championship. I’m just really happy that it all worked out and it just goes to show how good and how hard the team is working because championships are unbelievably difficult to win. It came down to last race, in the last hours and I’m just really happy for the team and Balzan.”
The team’s #64 Ferrari sponsored by Ultratech and Ferrari Silicon Valley opened with Scuderia Corsa veteran Jeff Westphal behind the wheel who worked his way to the lead before handing off to fellow San Francisco native Johannes Van Overbeek. The #64 led mid-race and maintained its presence at the top of the pack throughout the race. Ferrari fans rejoiced when the #63 and #64 crossed the finish line on second and third position. Westphal said, “overall I’m elated for Scuderia Corsa. Happy I could be a part of the 63 and 64’s success at different times in the championship. Johannes [Van Overbeek] and I worked the on car all week and the car was really fast. So happy to be part of the championship for Ferrari and Scuderia Corsa.” Co-driver Johannes Van Overbeek who earned a podium finish last season at Lime Rock in the #63 car with Balzan and helped Ferrari secure the 2012 manufacturers title added, “my second year with Scuderia Corsa at Lime Rock and another championship: happy to have played a role in it. Hats off to Jeff who drove a great race. The #64 was really good today. I couldn’t be happier for team owners Giacomo and Art. What a great result for a very tough season.”