Building on the team’s recent debut in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and its already confirmed programs in GRAND-AM and IMSA Prototype Lites, 8Star Motorsports has announced its entry into the FIA World Endurance Championship for 2013, including a bid at the 90th anniversary Le Mans 24 Hours.
The South Florida-based team, owned by championship driver Enzo Potolicchio, will compete in the GTE-AM category with a Ferrari 458 Italia, run in cooperation by AF Corse. Potolicchio, who won last year’s WEC LMP2 Drivers’ Trophy as well as Rookie-of-the-Year honors, will be joined by Italian star Marco Cioci and Portuguese veteran Rui Aguas as drivers in the No. 81 Ferrari, which will be adorned in the colors of the Venezuelan flag.
Following a season in LMP2 which included wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Le Mans and 6 Hours of Sao Paulo, Potolicchio heads into this year’s eight-round World Championship with the goal of being the first driver to win back-to-back WEC titles in two different classes. Additionally, he is aiming to become one of a select few to achieve the same feat at the world’s most prestigious endurance race.
“There are not that many drivers who have won Le Mans in multiple classes. That was one of the main reasons why we decided to go GT racing,” Potolicchio said. “The whole plan came together in Abu Dhabi when I was there racing for AF Corse. I’ve known Amato Ferrari for a long time and he has been very supportive of my driving. I think this is the logical next step, not only for myself, but for 8Star Motorsports.”
As a two-time Ferrari Challenge North America champion, Potolicchio already has close ties to the Italian manufacturer, which won the WEC GTE Manufacturers’ Championship last year. Ferrari’s success came thanks to a dominant season by AF Corse, with the Amato Ferrari-led operation claiming six class victories and the GTE-Pro Teams’ Trophy.
AF Corse will be handling race operations of 8Star’s GTE-AM effort alongside select personnel from its Pompano Beach, Fla. organization. It includes Director of Operations, Brian Colangelo, who served as team manager for Potolicchio’s WEC LMP2 championship-winning season last year.
“We started talking a few months ago because of our good relationship in the WEC, and most recently in Abu Dhabi,” said AF Corse Team Principal Amato Ferrari. “Enzo is a great interest for Ferrari because he raced in Ferrari Challenge and he has a good relationship with Ferrari North America. He did a good job in Abu Dhabi and we’re sure that he can help us develop the car and try to win the championship.”
“On paper, we have the best lineup in GTE-AM,” Potolicchio added. “With the continued support we’re getting from Venezuela, and now from AF Corse and Ferrari, I know we have everything we need to be successful. It will be great to be back in a Ferrari, and one that I know will be capable of winning races and the championship. It’s a perfect program for us and we’re looking forward to starting this new chapter.”
The 2013 WEC season is comprised of eight races in eight countries on four continents beginning with the 6 Hours of Silverstone (England) on April 14. The 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium) on May 4 serves as the final warm-up to the 24 Hours of Le Mans (France), a double points-scoring round on June 22-23.
A trip to Brazil for the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo on Sept. 1 is followed by a U.S. round at the new Circuit of the Americas on Sept. 22. The championship concludes with a three-race stretch in Asia, with the 6 Hours of Fuji (Japan) on Oct. 20, followed by the 6 Hours of Shanghai (China) on Nov. 10 and the season-ending 6 Hours of Bahrain on Nov. 30.
Source : 8 Star Motorsports