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Ferrari celebrated its return to the top endurance class after half a century by scoring a historic pole position with the 499P number 50 driven by Antonio Fuoco at the 1000 Miles of Sebring, the opening event of the FIA WEC 2023. The Ferrari – AF Corse team’s qualifying also concluded with an excellent fourth place for Alessandro Pier Guidi in the Hypercar number 51.

As the sunset over the Florida sky illuminated the tarmac of the legendary Sebring International Raceway, the Maranello marque stepped into a new sporting era by setting the benchmark time among the Hypercars. The twenty-six-year-old Italian stopped the clock in 1:45.067, 0.214 ahead of the number 8 Toyota, securing pole position for the 499P number 50 crew also including Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen. The last Ferrari to start from the first grid box in the top class was the 312 PB of Arturo Merzario and Carlos Pace at the 1973 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ferrari number 51 will start fourth courtesy of the time set by Pier Guidi, 0.807 behind his teammate. In the final qualifying phase, the three-time LMGTE Pro world champion turned in his best time on the 6.019-kilometre US track, giving the car, shared with James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi, a favourable grid position.

The 1000 Miles of Sebring will start on Friday, 17 March, at 12pm (local time).

Antonio Fuoco, 499P #50: “Taking pole position is truly unbelievable. I want to thank the entire team involved here and at Maranello for the extraordinary effort of the last eight months. I am proud of all of them, and I can’t wait to compete. Tomorrow, we will set off from pole position and try to do our best, knowing that the race will be long and will run on a track like Sebring that is very demanding for the car. Given the high afternoon temperatures, tyre management will be a crucial factor in the race”.

Alessandro Pier Guidi, 499P #51: “I am delighted for the team. We achieved a pole position with one car and a second row with the other. It’s an excellent start to the season. We qualified first and immediately after the Toyotas, the benchmark in the Hypercar class. Our car’s performance is excellent, but we know the 1000 Miles of Sebring is a challenging race where reliability will be crucial”.

Antonello Coletta, Head of Ferrari GT Sporting Activities: “There are few occasions when an achievement can be called historic, but I think we can use this adjective here. The road is very long, and the race will be tough. But, today we want to celebrate this extraordinary qualifying performance because it repays the enormous sacrifices that the team, the drivers and the entire group have made over these very intense months. The result was possible thanks to the passion, dedication and spirit of belonging of a team that, first and foremost, is one big family”.

Ferdinando Cannizzo, Head of GT & Sports Race Cars: “Today, we wrote a beautiful page in the history of Ferrari. It’s an indescribable thrill for all of us, an unparalleled pleasure. We struggled to contain our excitement. This pole position and fourth place in qualifying repays the team for all its efforts and at the same time confirms the excellence of its work. However, we know that this is only the first small step and that we still have much to do and learn before we can fight for victory. From tomorrow, we will continue to prepare for the race with the same humility that has taken us so far”.

Source. Ferrari


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