Nancy Knapp Schilke
Olivier Beretta, sportscar specialist, especially in the GT cars, will be driving a Ferrari in the Rolex Series Grand-Am season opener. Beretta did indeed leave Corvette Racing after an eight year stint where he earned five championships in both the GTS and GT1 classes in the American Le Mans Series. The Monaco resident also has six class wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Beretta was named today as one of the six drivers who will race for the combined Risi Competizione / American Canadian Racing team for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
In 2000, he teamed up with Karl Wendlinger and Dominique Dupuy to score the Daytona 24 Hour overall win in a Dodge Viper GTSR. The trio of drivers in the GTO class held off the competition to score the surprise victory at the Daytona International Speedway’s infield circuit for road racing.
Beretta explained, "I left Corvette Racing in November, and when I was offered the chance to drive a Ferrari at Daytona with Risi, I didn't have to think about it for one second," Beretta said. "When I was a kid, my uncle had a Ferrari Daytona [365 GTB/4]. It was riding in this car that gave me my first feeling of speed, and don't forget I am half Italian."
At this time it is unknown if Beretta will continue to race for the Risi Ferrari team based in Houston, Texas, plus Risi has not yet confirmed what races beyond Daytona they will contest in 2012. What is confirmed is he is part of an all-star lineup of drivers who will take on the challenge of earning the 2012 Rolex 24 of Daytona GT class victory in the new Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am.
Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella, who both have raced for Risi Competizione over the past years, spent the 2011 season competing in the Intercontinental Le Mans (ILMC) and in the Le Mans Series (LMS). The duo earned handed Ferrari the LM GTE-Pro team and manufacturers titles in both the ILMC and the LMS. Another of the Ferrari drivers who has raced for the Risi team over the years is Toni Vilander and he will also be at Daytona for the team. Last year, he was one of the two drivers that challenge for the ALMS’ GTE wins and championship and in December he was one of the pilots of the new Ferrari.
The surprise was the naming of IndyCar driver Raphael Matos to the lineup but the Brazilian brings experience to the table and earlier he was one of the test pilots for the new Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am car that will be making its official debut at the Roar before the Rolex 24 at Daytona three days of testing starting on January 6th. Matos has also won the Rolex 24 race in the GT class in 2008 in the SpeedSource Mazda RX-8, sharing the driver duties with Sylvain Tremblay, David Haskell and Nick Ham.
While many expected Jaime Melo to be but today it was announced that Scuderia Ferrari Formula One test driver, Andrea Bertolini, will take on the challenge. The Italian has four FIA GT championships and is one of the main test drivers for Ferrari's GT program. Plus he knows team owner Giuseppe Risi quite well and did race for the team in the past.
Motorola and QT Technologies have been names as sponsors plus the combined effort with the American and Canadian dealerships: Ferrari of Ontario, Ferrari of Beverly Hills, Ferrari of Silicon Valley, Ferrari of Ft. Lauderdale, Boardwalk Ferrari, Ferrari of Vancouver, and Ferrari of Houston
The 50th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona will take place starting January 26th.