The new Ferrari F458 Italia designed for competition in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series tested Tuesday and Wednesday at Daytona International Speedway.
Ferrari factory engineers spent part of Tuesday morning getting the car up and running before getting to work getting the suspension setup right for the unique 3.56-mile circuit that combines a high-banked oval with an infield road course. It was also the first time at Daytona for Ferrari factory driver Jaime Melo, the lead driver at the test.
"The big significance for this car is that it was conceived and produced by Ferrari and built specifically for the Rolex Series," said Mark Raffauf, managing director of competition for Grand-Am, who added that four to six of the new Ferraris is a realistic number for next year's Rolex 24, and that several teams were looking at running Ferraris in the entire Rolex Series championship.
Eddie Cheever was central to cementing the relationship between Ferrari and Grand-Am. The Indy 500 winner and F1 veteran is also considering running one of the new cars for his son, an 18-year-old currently racing Formula 3 in Italy.
"Like everybody at Daytona, I'm very anxious to see Ferrari return to [Daytona] and hurtling itself around the banked corners," Cheever said.
"When I started following racing in the 1970s, it was all about Ferrari against Porsche and Ford. I think we're returning to that era again, and this might be a beginning to some of those great battles we've seen in the past with the great manufacturers.
"I know of at least five groups that are seriously entertaining racing a 458 – and I might even be one of those."