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MOVING THE GT-RACING GOALPOSTS
The last of the modern-day, V12-engined Ferrari GT cars, the 575M GTC harked back to the heyday of traditional 1950s and '60s Grand Touring machines that were developed into a dominant race cars.
Enzo Ferrari's large-capacity, front-engined machines cleaned up in international competition, winning all the sportscar racing classics, including the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Sebring 12 Hours, the Mille Miglia and the Targa Florio.
Soon after Ferrari quit the endurance-racing scene at the end of 1973 with the Competizione Daytona to concentrate on its struggling Formula 1 fortunes, it was privateer teams who picked up the baton and ran with it, continuing to campaign the famous 'red cars' in national and international events from that moment on.
By the 1990s GT Endurance racing had reached a peak with the BPR series and then FIA GT. Coincidentally Ferrari had also released their first front engined V12 GT since the fabled Daytona with the 550 Maranello. With widespread acclaim for the 550 and the success of the FIA GT series the connection was too much and so a group of privateers working with English team Prodrive developed a 550 Race Car.
The 550 race cars, dubbed 550 GTS, were produced by British firm Prodrive largely in secret from the factory. The cars' success in the FIA GT Championship, a global series created with the blessing of motorsport's governing body, spawned a huge amount of interest. When the car won the super-competitive GT class at Le Mans in 2003, that interest only increased. Ferrari had now taken notice and would launch the 575 GTC program producing the first factory sanctioned V12 GT race car in over 30 years.
Ferrari subcontracted the Fiat Group's long-time competition partner N-Technology, founded by Mauro Sipsz and Monica Bregoli, to build just a dozen cars.
Featuring increased capacity, to 5,997cc, thanks to a longer stroke, new camshafts and uprated fuel injection in the V12 powerplant, the 575M GTC represented the most up-to-date and powerful incarnation of a legendary breed of Ferrari competition cars.
CHASSIS 2220 – A BRIEF HISTORY OF A FABLED FERRARI
Chassis number 2220 was the 10th in what was a production run of just 12 575 Maranello GTCs built by N-Technology. It also is one of just four cars upgraded to 575 GTC EVO specification at eye watering cost. It first appeared on track for the official FIA GT Championship test at the mid-point of the 2004 season at the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit.
Run by the GPC Giesse Squadra Corse team, the car set the fastest time during the test at the home of the Belgian Grand Prix and 24-hour endurance classic, with former Grand Prix driver Mika Salo at the wheel. The Finn, who would win two FIA GT Championship races later that year in an AF Corse Maserati MC12, shared the car with Italian Fabio Babini.
Still yet to take part in full-blown competition, the car appeared at the pre-season FIA GT test at Monza in March 2005, this time run by former F1 racer Loris Kessel's eponymous team. Spaniard Jaime Melo was on duty that day at the historic Italian venue and set the fifth fastest time.
Back in the hands of GPC, chassis 2220 was duly entered for its first race a few weeks later at Imola, round one of the 2005 Italian GT Championship. The death of Pope John Paul II meant the race was cancelled after qualifying, so the car's first track appearance was postponed.
The second round took place at Misano, with Italians Stefano Livio and Fabio Santaniello finally able to give chassis 2220 its competition debut. They finished fourth and sixth in the two races, taking fourth overall in the final, aggregate result.
GPC entered the car in six more Italian GT Championship races that year – at Vallelunga, Monza, Hungaroring, Magione, Mugello and, for the final time, Vallelunga once more, with Livio and Santaniello securing their best result of the year in Hungary courtesy of a third-place finish.
Before that breakthrough podium finish at the Hungaroring, the car once again took part in the traditional FIA GT test at Spa. Although still under the GPC banner, three different drivers – Belgian trio Loic Deman, Stéphane Lémeret and Frédéric Bouvy – were on driving duty. They ended the weekend with the seventh fastest time, with the sister 575M GTC taking 14th on the timesheets.
The car's motorsport pedigree ramped up with its maiden international appearance in November 2005, when GPC entered it into the penultimate round of the FIA GT Championship in Dubai. The car, now driven by Andrea Montermini and Marco Cioci, qualified eighth, one place behind the sister car, driven by Jean-Denis Deletraz and Andrea Piccini. Transmission failure put paid to the #3 machine's efforts, although it would get another chance on the international stage one week later in the FIA GT season finale in Bahrain.
Montermini and Cioci qualified 11th in the desert and fought their way up to an impressive sixth place at the Sakhir track, home of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
With its racing career at an end, and the car having had no substantial accident or fire damage, it was subsequently sold into private hands by Corsa Clienti in March 2006. It has subsequently taken part in various events, including the Cavallino track event at Palm Beach International Raceway in Florida and an SVRA event at Sebring in 2007, it has not been seen in Public since Cavallino, Palm Beach in 2010.
Ferrari 575M GTC chassis #2220 has been meticulously maintained throughout its life and, since retiring from competition, only been used on sporadic occasions for privately organised track days. With a price tag today that's a fraction of its original cost, the car represents a fabulous opportunity to acquire a genuine Factory sanctioned Competition V12.