ACO ILMC Round Four At Imola Preview

Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari

In Ferrari’s bastion

The fourth round of the 2011 ILMC will take place on the Enzo & Dino Ferrari circuit in Imola this coming Sunday, not far away from the Prancing Horse factories. The Italian make will turn out in force in the GTE categories, while Audi will try and equal Peugeot’s number of victories this season. The French manufacturer has already won twice, and its German rival has emerged victorious in only one race, but what a race – the Le Mans 24 Hours!

#51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia: Giancarlo Fisichella, Gianmaria Bruni
#51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia: Giancarlo Fisichella, Gianmaria Bruni

Photo by: Lucien Harmegnies

Honour where honour is due. This weekend the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup will pitch its tent in Italy where the eagerly-awaited battles in all categories will resume three weeks after the Le Mans 24 Hours. To mark the occasion, Ferrari hosted a press conference on Tuesday 28th June to give the Italian journalists an insight into this international endurance season. In the magnificent setting of the Ferrari museum in Maranello, a Ferrari 166 MM, a model of the car that won the 1949 Le Mans 24 Hours belonging to the ACO Collections, and the Ferrari F458 Italia driven by Bruni-Fisichella, held pride of place among the Prancing Horse F1 cars. In front of all these thoroughbred racers Antonello Coletta, the Ferrari competition client manager, made a point of reminding those present of Ferrari attachment, to endurance events as the make is officially entered in the manufacturers’ championship. Giancarlo Fisichella and Gianmaria Bruni, both former F1 drivers, talked delightedly about the pleasure they now experience racing in the ILMC.

The two Italians, victorious at Spa and second at Le Mans, spearhead the Prancing Horse’s attack in this year’s ILMC, and their team leads the GTE Pro teams’ classification, while Ferrari lies second in the manufacturers’ title chase, only four points behind BMW.

They are determined to win again in front of their home crowd and also to beat the other nine Ferraris entered in GTE (six 458 Italias and four F430s in total making Ferrari the best-represented make at the Imola round). In GTE Pro they will have to fend off the attacks of the leader, BMW, while keeping an eye on Lotus, which is pursuing its apprenticeship in the championship. In LM GTE Am, the Italian make will be up against Porsche and Corvette.

In the prototype categories, the next installment of the duel between Audi and Peugeot promises to reach new heights of intensity. Despite its success in the Sarthe where double points were awarded, the Ingolstadt make has lost ground to its rival from Sochaux in the manufacturers’ championship stakes in which the French squad scored more points thanks to the second and third places of its 908s. The German firm will enter two new Audi R18s for Imola (two were destroyed in accidents at Le Mans, and the third, the victorious R18, has gone to the Ingolstadt museum), and is aiming to close the gap in Italy. To do so it will have to overcome a brace of 908s in the hands of the French team’s sprinters, Bourdais-Davidson and Sarrazin-Montagny.

With Aston Martin absent, the Rebellion Racing Team will try to fight off the attacks of OAK Racing and the Pescarolo Team (entered in the LMS) among the petrol-engined runners. Finally, Oreca, which won the Sebring 12 Hours, has not entered its Peugeot 908 HDi FAP for the Italian event!

#41 Greaves Motorsport Zytek Nissan: Karim Ojjeh, Tom Kimber-Smith, Olivier Lombard
#41 Greaves Motorsport Zytek Nissan: Karim Ojjeh, Tom Kimber-Smith, Olivier Lombard

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

The LM P2 category has a full quota: the three teams entered for the ILMC on a yearly basis will be there as well as an additional ten cars racing in the Le Mans Series. The Le Mans-winning trio of Ojjeh-Lombard-Kimber-Smith (in LMS) are hoping to repeat their success, but they are up against stiff opposition in the form of the Signatech-Nissan driven by Mailleux-Ordonnaz-Ayari.

The 4,909-km Enzo and Dino Ferrari circuit is in Imola (Emelia-Romagna) a town not far from Bologna. Between the Italian and San Marino Grand Prix 26 F1 events have been held there. The layout, which has been modified and improved several times since its creation to improve safety, is special in that races are run in an anti-clockwise direction. Imola’s infrastructures have been rebuilt recently, and with the 6-Hour race it is hosting the most prestigious event for cars on its 2011 calendar. In September, a round of the Superbike World Championship will be held there. Last week, 40 000 people attended a 2-day rock concert with the Iron Maiden group topping the bill.


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About this article
Series Le Mans , European Le Mans
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Gianmaria Bruni , Eric Gilbert , Tom Kimber-Smith , Karim Ojjeh , Olivier Lombard , Antonello Coletta
Teams Nissan Motorsports , Rebellion Racing , AF Corse , OAK Racing , Greaves Motorsport , Signatech , Pescarolo Team
Tags aco, audi, ferrari, imola, intercontinental le mans cup, peugeot