Vicious Rumour Racing will give a competition debut to the Ferrari 488 GT3 on the Australian Grand Prix weekend at Melbourne’s Albert Park, Racing.GT have learned.
The Melbourne-based team won’t take delivery of their new mount in time for the Australian GT championship season opener in Adelaide and have instead ear-marked the F1-supporting second round for the car’s first outing.
Team regulars Benny Simonsen and ex-Formula one driver Andrea Montermini have been entrusted with the driving duties, reprising the line-up that took second in the Am class of last year’s Bathurst 12 Hour to outright winner Nissan.
“It’s a pretty good gig, I’m very excited for it,” said Simonsen. “It’s going to be the first race for the 488 and it’s cool to be on the F1 package, it’s a big event out there.
“I haven’t actually driven it yet, my first time will be at the Grand Prix, but Andrea has been shaking it down in Italy. The car is on its way now, but it’s going to be so close to Clipsal and as a Melbourne-based team, the Grand Prix is a really big deal for them, so it makes sense to wait; if you end up having some damage at Clipsal it’s probably game over for the Grand Prix.”
Car owner Tony Defelice was part of the driver line-up at Bathurst and will return later in the season, but will take a back seat for the car’s debut, with only a 20 minute practice session to get both drivers acquainted before qualifying.
“Tony is going to do some more races himself, but for the Grand Prix he’d like the car to win on its debut so he’s given us that task. We’ll have a crack at it and see if we can get to the top step,” Simonsen continued.
“They are trying to organise a test the week before, but it all depends on when it gets to Melbourne. There’s only a twenty minute practice before we do qualifying and that’s for two drivers, we have to do ten minutes each, but I’m looking forward to it.
“I’ve not been to the track, but normally when I go to Bathurst I’ll stay in Melbourne because the team is based there, so I’ve been there quite a few times now. From the sim I really like the circuit, it has a good fast flow to it which is the type of track I like.”
Simonsen is under no illusions of the challenge facing Vicious Rumour, with the quality of opposition in Australian GT at an all-time high. 28 cars will take on the season opener at Adelaide, with even more to come for the Grand Prix weekend.
“Australian GT is building more and more; if you look at the entry list for Clipsal it’s incredible and I think the Grand Prix is going to be even tougher, because it’s the one everyone wants to do out there,” he added. “I know the grid has been sold up for quite a while, there’s the BMW, McLaren, Mercedes, Audis, everyone wants to win it, and it’s going to be very competitive. But we’re going there to win, I think we’ve got a good chance and we can do it.”