Sebring: Team Olive Garden preview

Independent's Day Sebring, Fla. (March 5, 2003) --Team Olive Garden's leader is out to prove a point. Gabriele Rafanelli wants to beat factory racing teams. He also likes to flaunt conventional wisdom: That only factory-backed racing teams can...

Independent's Day

Sebring, Fla. (March 5, 2003) --Team Olive Garden's leader is out to prove a point. Gabriele Rafanelli wants to beat factory racing teams. He also likes to flaunt conventional wisdom: That only factory-backed racing teams can win in today's high-caliber American Le Mans Series (ALMS).

"Under the skin, it's an all-new car," says popular team boss, Rafanelli. "To beat the factory Corvettes and their multi-million dollar budget, we've taken everything to the limit in the short gap between Petit Le Mans last year and the Hours of Sebring this year. Even though the green, white and red Team Olive Garden Ferrari 550 Maranello GTS V2003 looks similar to last year's car, it has been re-designed from the ground up. We had no option for conservatism this year."

"I am grateful for the continued encouragement and support from Olive Garden and Coca-Cola. In the business world, they take their competition seriously. I like to think our efforts to win are in similar spirit with their competitive drive. And of course, without the backing Pirelli has given us, we wouldn't be so confident head- ing for Sebring."

Team Olive Garden drivers Johnny Cecotto, Emanuele Naspetti and Mimmo Schiattarella share Rafanelli's optimism. "Last year," says Schiattarella, "our car was very, very good in slow and medium-speed corners -- we had good mechanical grip. In high speeds it was far be- hind the Corvettes, but we believe we have solved that problem. Now, to have also more torque, better engine response and much more power than we had last year - despite of the tighter restrictors-- well for me it will be like Christmas!"

Rafanelli sums up his goals this way, "I wish Mimmo and Emanuele a happy Christmas if that's what they like, but for me, I want to de- clare Saturday, March 15, 2003 as independent's day!"

**What's New -- Team Olive Garden Ferrari 550 Maranello GTS V2003:

* New 6.0 Liter. V-12 by Elan Power Products with all-new torque enhancing carbon-fiber intake design

* Pirelli P Zero racing tires

* Front/rear chassis rigidity improved

* Underbody airflow completely revised for lower drag / higher down force

* All-new suspension designs front and rear with greatly improved kinematics

* Improved damping options by Moton

* New Hewland six-speed sequential gearbox

* Improved cockpit environment

-tog-

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Johnny Cecotto , Emanuele Naspetti , Mimmo Schiattarella