OLD FRIENDS BRING THE FIREWORKS
R. Ferri Motorsport has a relatively
short history in the annals of North
American sports car racing, but its
success has already been noteworthy.
A spinoff of the Canadian Remo Ferri
Group of auto dealerships, which includes
Ferrari of Ontario and Ferrari of Toronto,
along with a host of other marques, the
Toronto, Ontario-based team competes
in the Pirelli World Challenge GT
Championship and the Ferrari Challenge.
Beginning in 2013 in partnership
with AIM Autosport, R. Ferri
Motorsport competed in the
Grand-Am GT division, winning at
Indianapolis Motor Speedway with
Jeff Segal and Max Papis.
In 2014, the team switched to
PWC, running two 458 Italia GT3s in
the GT class for Anthony Lazarro and
Nick Mancuso. Lazarro was in the title
hunt until the finale, having scored
victories at Barber Motorsports Park
and Sonoma Raceway, and finished
third in final points.
In 2015, the team primarily ran
a single car for Olivier Beretta, who
notched wins at Circuit of The
Americas, St. Petersburg and Long
Beach, finishing second in the
championship after the dramatic finale
at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
R. Ferri Motorsport also runs a fleet
of cars in the Ferrari Challenge North
America, a series for identically
prepared 458 Challenge cars that
races throughout the U.S. and Canada.
(TOP) Olivier Beretta stepped into R.
Ferri’s already winning PWC program in
2015 and (ABOVE) worked with the team
to take it to the brink of a GT class title.
SHORT, BUT SWEET
THE RISE OF R. FERRI
Park. He says it a testament to the team.
“Without a doubt, it’s the best team
I’ve ever been with,” he enthuses. “Our
learning curve has been pretty quick and
steep with this car, but we worked on the
reliability and we just stayed in the hunt.
If you look at it, we’ve really only been
fast at two events, Mosport and Utah.
Everywhere else, my qualifying position
was pretty crappy. On average, we qualified
seventh. But we’ve raced well and been
smart, and that’s usually what it takes.”
Without some luck, though, he
wouldn’t have been fighting for the
championship – neither man would,
matter of fact. O’Connell is quick to give
credit to Ryan Dalziel and acknowledge
that the Scot would have won the
championship going away had he not had
conflicts with his commitment to the
Extreme Speed Motorsports P2 team in
the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Missing two race weekends (three races)
left him third in the championship.
Other top contenders suffered from bad
luck on occasion and teething problems as
well. Fourth-place championship finisher
JD Davison was developing the Always
Evolving Nissan GT-R into a contender, and
Kevin Estre, fifth in points, missed two
races when his K-PAX Racing team pulled
their McLaren 650S cars out of the Miller
rounds due to a disagreement over
Balance of Performance adjustments.
Whatever the reasons, whatever the
twists and turns of others, it came down
to O’Connell and Beretta. Given their
off-track friendship, both men laughed off
the attention given to the former-teammates-turned-championship-rivals
story and the focus on the history between
the two, but it was little surprise that the
championship race played out the way it
did. Two strong-willed racers giving it their
all on track often produces such results.
Before the race, O’Connell described
himself as calculating, and Beretta as more
of a risk-taker, and that seemed to be borne
out. However, it may have boiled down to
something much more basic: a mindset
that almost any successful racer has.
“I hate to lose, and Olivier hates to
lose,” states O’Connell. “When it comes
down to it, it’s pretty much that simple.”
(ABOVE) The “race
face” might say
different, but Olivier
Beretta really is an
easy-going type of
guy... (LEFT) The
Ferrari driver hunts
down his Cadillac-driving prey at