Maranello returns to frontline world sports car racing 50 years on
Ferrari’s new 499P unveiled at the annual Finali Mondiali over the weekend, is the Scuderia’s first real sports prototype racer in a half-century. The new 2.9-litre biturbo V6 hybrid Quattro-Nove-Nove P Le Mans Hypercar is a huge moment for Maranello.
Absent from the Front of Sports Racing Since 1973
Absent from a proper frontline Le Mans attack since it was humbled by Matra in ’73, Sportscars are probably more important to Ferrari than Formula 1. The Cavallino spent its first quarter century as carmaker proving its worth in both F1 and sportscar racing.
No stranger to sportscar success, Ferrari’s earliest road cars were basically tame sports racers. Maranello won 12 sports world titles in 20 years from 1953 to ’72. That compares to 15 F1 Constructors, and 15 Formula 1 World Drivers titles over 72 years of Formula 1.
Ferrari Won Le Mans Nine Times in 25 Years
The premier endurance racing series has been known by many names over the years. Ferrari first took the 1953 and ‘then the 54, ’56, ’57 and ’58, and 1960 and ‘61 Sports Car World titles. Maranello then won the 1962, ’63, ‘64 and ‘65 International GT championships.
Ferrari were also 1967 International Sports-Prototypes champions, and finally took the 1972 World Championship for Makes. Ferrari also won Le Mans nine times versus Porsche’s 19 and Audi’s 13, before Fiat pressure urged Enzo to choose one. And F1 it was.
Ferrari Has its Le Mans Work Cut Out
Now known as the World Endurance Championship, sportscar racing is stronger than ever. A massive influx of manufacturer teams is swelling the series. So, Ferrari has a fight on its hands if it wants to reclaim that Le Mans and WEC glory.
Next year Maranello takes on Toyota, Peugeot, and possibly Glickenhaus in Hypercars, and Porsche, Cadillac and Alpine’s LMDh cars. BMW, Lamborghini and possibly Acura are set to join the fray from ’24. And all of them want to win. Bring it on!