WEC manufacturers – a rich history in endurance racing: Ferrari
For the second in our series on the endurance racing history of our manufacturer partners, we look at Ferrari.
The hallowed Ferrari name may be primarily associated with Formula 1 these days, but the Prancing Horse’s relationship with the 24 Hours of Le Mans stretches back even further.
When the French classic was run for the first time after the World War II in 1949, a privately-entered Ferrari 166 took top honours, the first of nine outright wins the Italian marque would take in the next 16 years.
Likewise, Ferrari was a forced to be reckoned with in the World Sportscar Championship, formed in 1953 and dominated by the Maranello brand for the rest of the decade and the early 60s until the arrival of the make that would become its arch-nemesis, Ford.
The rivalry between Ferrari and Ford was era-defining, quickly becoming one of the most memorable chapters in Le Mans history. But it also signalled the end of Ferrari’s domination of sportscar racing; after its streak of wins was broken by Ford in 1966, it never again took overall victory at La Sarthe.
Ferrari was still able to salvage some honour with WSC titles in 1967 and 1972, but the following year would be its final season in sportscar racing before it withdrew to focus purely on F1.
Twenty years would pass before Ferrari produced another sports prototype, the 333SP, which enjoyed success in America in the 1990s – notably in the Sebring 12 Hours and Daytona 24 Hours – but never contended for victory at Le Mans. The following decade, the Scuderia shifted its focus to GT cars.
In 2003, Ferrari took GTS class victory with a Prodrive-run 550-GTS, and in 2008 and 2009 the Risi Competizione team took back-to-back GT2 class wins with the F430.
The F430’s successor, the 458 Italia, was equally successful, with the factory-blessed AF Corse squad winning the GTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2012 and also sealing the GTE Manufacturers’ World Cup the same year in the inaugural FIA World Endurance Championship season.
Further WEC manufacturers’ and drivers’ titles came in 2013 and 2014, and after losing out to Porsche in 2015 Ferrari rebounded in 2016 with another manufacturers’ crown before again taking both titles in 2017 – making it by far the most successful GTE marque in the series’ history.