American young star Montecalvo set for Le Mans return


Montecalvo was approached by Florida-based 8Star Motorsports to replace the team owner at the wheel of the No. 90 Ferrari F458 Italia in the GTE-Am series.

Le Mans, France – June 4, 2013 – Young American sportscar star Frankie Montecalvo will take on the world’s toughest and most famous endurance race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Saturday, June 14, 2014.

After driving in the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans, Montecalvo was approached by Florida-based 8Star Motorsports to replace the team owner at the wheel of the No. 90 Ferrari F458 Italia in the GTE-Am series. While the Venezuelan team-owner Enzo Potolicchio must remain in America to comply with his U.S. green card application, Potolicchio needed to search for a driver to take his place.

In an interview with Sportscar365, Potolicchio explained, “It’s an unfortunate situation, but it was important to find a solution for the car as we needed another driver for Le Mans. I’m happy we found Frankie to fill in.”

At the young age of 23, Montecalvo is looking forward to returning to Le Mans for the second time with the hopes of making a podium finish this year. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is not only the world’s most prestigous endurance race of the year for all sports car drivers, but it is also renowned as the ultimate automotive test of man and machine..

Frankie Montecalvo
Frankie Montecalvo

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

“I’m very excited to get back to Le Mans,” Montecalvo said. “I haven’t been there since 2012 and I’m really looking forward to building on the experience I’ve previously gained at the Le Mans track and using it towards this race.”

Aside from driving for 8Star Motorsports at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, Montecalvo, along with co-driver, long-time friend and mentor Gunnar Jeannette, are driving for the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports team for the 2014 season. Together the young American stars drive the #52 Camp Boggy Creek/Bayshore Racing/Molecule Labs FLM09 PC Class entry in the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Although Montecalvo’s co-driver Jeannette will not be driving at Le Mans, he is excited to attend and support his teammate during the year’s biggest race.

“While I’m disappointed to not be driving with Frankie at Le Mans, I couldn’t be happier for his opportunity with 8Star & the AF Corse team,” Jeannette said.

“The 24 Hours of Le Mans is really what sportscar racing is all about and for a young driver to go over with a competitive team and a shot of winning is very special. I’ve been coaching and driving with Frankie since he started driving and I can honestly say that his driving right now is at the highest level I’ve seen. To see him standing on the podium in a weeks time will be as sweet as being up there myself. ”

Montecalvo’s racing career began in 2008 when he was just 17 years old. Since then, Montecalvo has progressed quickly, taking second place for Continental Tire Challenge’s driver championship award in 2011 and being recognized as one of the most notable rookies of 2012 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans by SPEEDTV.

Frankie Montecalvo:

How did the test day go?

"It was nice to meet with the new team. Everyone there is super nice. You look on the outside, with it being a factory team, and everyone's very serious. But when you are actually on the inside, everyone treats you like family.

"Within three laps I was getting up to speed. It took less time than I thought it would have but it definitely takes some getting used to the Ferrari again over the PC car. The Ferraris drive great and the car was set up very well.

"We ended up being the fastest Ferrari overall. It was very good. I'm not sure if that was a smart thing to show, but it was a good run. Both of my co-drivers, Gianluca and Paolo, are very good in it. We have a good lineup, but like any race, you have to stay out of trouble to do well."

What were some of the things you learned on your last trip that will be beneficial this time around?

"The biggest thing I learned before was just trying to get around Le Mans with such a huge speed differential between cars. With all of the prototypes and GT traffic, especially at night, as it's a challenging place in some sections, the key is to stay out of trouble."

How impressive is the AF Corse lineup that is running the 8Star entry?

"It's very impressive. When you get there, it's almost a whole block, as we were calling it, because there are so many garages. I think they had two cars parked in one bay just for the test. It was cramped but the guys do an amazing job.

"Everything was really organized. The cars are fresh. You couldn't ask for more. It was a very good experience so far and I'm looking forward to going back there.

"They do a great job with the hospitality too. Everything was great, the food was amazing. You don't feel like you're in France!”

Despite him not driveing, at Le Mans, how much help will Gunnar be able to provide?

"It's going to be great. He definitely helped out, even at the test. Just getting out and having someone you can talk to in-depth that doesn't speak broken English is nice. Especially with Gunnar's experience at Le Mans, to have someone there to help you out, is great. If he sees something from the outside,he'll definitely speak up and let you know."

Hod did you find the new curbs at Le Mans?

"They're definitely really big. You don't want to hit them because you'd break the car or fly. It makes it more difficult for people to cut through the corners. Now, it will police itself.

"I remember in 2012, they'd call penalties on some people and they'd let some people slide. And I was only two wheels over and some people would go four wheels over. I figure that's why they decided to add that.

"It's definitely tight and we'll see how it goes. You really don't want to bounce over them, that's for sure."

How big of A challenge is it to swap from PC car to Le Mans?

"I get into Kansas on Thursday, we practice on Friday and race Saturday, leave for France on Sunday and get in on Monday morning for scrutineering and make it therein time for the team photo.

"Its going to be a jam packed couple of days but I guess the way I look at it, if you're driving something, it's better than just sitting around waiting to drive at Le Mans. I'm going to use it to gain a little bit more race craft and experience before going to Le Mans.

"The car is going to be different but I think just getting used to driving in traffic and stuff like that at Kansas will be better than just sitting around."

How Different is Kansas going to be with racing alongside the Prototype Lites cars?

"It's going to be very interesting. There's so many different levels of driving experience in IMSA Lites. I haven't paid much attention to it since I raced in it a few years ago.

"I's going to be learning how to drive with a whole group of cars and drivers and try to see their experience level. You could have somebody that's very, very good and somebody that's not so trustworthy and racing wheel-to-wheel with them before trying to pass them on the inside.

"We're obviously going to have some good speed differential on the banking, which will be nice for a change. But I think in the corners, those cars are going to be helpful because they're so light and agile."

Bayshore On Track

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series LE MANS
Drivers Gunnar Jeannette , Eric Gilbert , Frankie Montecalvo , Enzo Potolicchio
Teams AF Corse
Article type Interview
Tags 8star motorsports, 24 hours of le mans, enzo potolicchio, ferrari f458 italia, frankie montecalvo, gte-am