Confidence is high within the Prodrive Ferrari team as final preparations are made for
departure to France for the 70th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 15th/16th June.
The Ferrari 550 GTS Maranello had a superb showing at the official Le Mans test day on 5
May. The car, driven solely by Tomas Enge as his team mates Rydell and Menu were
racing elsewhere, ran faultlessly for eight hours and ended up topping the GTS class
timesheets 3.9 seconds faster than its nearest rival.
Since that time important reliability and durability testing has taken place, with particular
attention being paid to the engine, gearbox and suspension. After the conclusion of the
last test, team principal, George Howard-Chappell, said: "It has all gone very well, and we
have had the opportunity to put to the test a number of key mechanical areas which have
come through with flying colours. We certainly don't underestimate the task ahead of us at
Le Mans, but we are confident
that we have the right package to strongly challenge the opposition from start to finish."
The right package includes the Prodrive-developed 6-litre V12 engine, which has been
run problem-free for over 5000 miles, a good aerodynamic set up, race-proven Michelin
tyres, and an all-star driver line up which includes a classic mix of experience, youth and
Long-time Prodrive driver, Rickard Rydell of Sweden, will be returning to La Sarthe for the
first time in 12 years, and is the only one of the three Ferrari drivers who has raced at Le
Mans before. The former British Touring Car Champion and current Volvo European
Touring Car regular, is looking forward to visiting the famous French track again.
"I'm really happy to go back to Le Mans with Prodrive," he said. "It's a very special event. It
was a shame Alain and I could not do the test day as our car is looking very good. I know
the circuit will have changed a lot since I was there last, but I don't think it will take long to
get to know it again."
British-domiciled Swiss driver, Alain Menu, will be taking a break from his Opel DTM
duties to renew his partnership with Rydell. Another former British Touring Car
Champion, this will be his debut at Le Mans and he too is looking forward to the race with
great anticipation. "We have done a lot of work to the car since Sebring but now it's all
about reliability for the 24 Hours. From what I have been told, I think it will be a memorable
Rounding off the trio is Czech F3000 star, Tomas Enge, who was bubbling with
enthusiasm after his visit to Le Mans in May. "It's the greatest circuit in the world! Fantastic
straights where you can get up to speeds of over 300kph - I could even stay with the
prototypes in their slipstream. Being on my own at the test meant I had lots of time to
learn the circuit and get used to where you can overtake slower cars and so on. I've got
two very quick team mates so I think we will be looking good when we get there."
Prodrive, one of the world's leading motorsport businesses, is involved in world rallying,
Formula One, sports cars and touring cars, as well as extensive interests in automotive
design and technology across the globe. The company has developed the Ferrari 550
GTS Maranello on behalf of a privateer entrant, and has also provided two cars to the BMS
Scuderia Italia team in the FIA GT Series.