Monday, 11 January 2016

Rigon optimistic ahead of 2016 season

Davide Rigon is hopeful that a new car and team mate will propel him to world championship glory in this year's FIA World Endurance Championship season.

The Ferrari driver had a strong season in 2015, finishing in the top five in the standings after five podium finishes, including a second place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

After Le Mans, Rigon and team mate James Calado went on a streak of four races with a top three finish. However, despite the impressive run, the pair ultimately fell short of winning a race and eventually had to settle for fourth in the final standings.

"In 2014 I learned a lot and I came prepared in 2015 and performed strongly in both qualifying and the races," said Rigon. "I'm happy with my performance, but in terms of results we got less than we wanted."

This year will see a number of changes in the factory AF Corse team. Calado will be moving along to partner Gianmaria Bruni in the team's other car, replacing the departing Toni Vilander, while his place alongside Rigon will be taken by the newly-signed Sam Bird.

Vilander's move to the IMSA United Sports Car championship in the United States leaves Rigon as one of AF Corse's more experienced GT drivers. While he admits that wont change much within the team, his experience will be vital as Ferrari embarks on a new era with a new car.

They will be taking to the track with the new-for-2016 Ferrari 488GTE, which replaces the 458 that the team have campaigned since the 2011 season.

With a new car and team mate, the Thiene native believes he has the tools in place to mount a solid championship challenge in 2016.

"I am very positive for this season, I hope I can fight for the championship with Sam," said Rigon. I am very happy to share the new Ferrari 488 with him. He's a very fast driver with extensive experience in the FIA ​​WEC"

"The whole team, Ferrari and Michelotto staff, are very excited about the new Ferrari 488," he added, "but we must wait for the comparison with other manufacturers to understand our real potential."

The team's new 488GTE won't be the only new car in the FIA WEC this season. Ford will return with a car based on their new GT road car, re-igniting the iconic rivalry that Ferrari shared with the American marque in the 1960s.

"I am very happy that now there is a major manufacturer like them," Rigon said of Ford's return. "It will be difficult fight. Both myself and the whole team will be pushing strongly to beat them."

Rigon's FIA WEC campaign gets underway at Silverstone in April, a track where he has never failed to finish outside the top five during his sports car career. Until then, the two-time Superleague Formula champion will take part in the 24 Hours of Daytona with Risi Competizione and continue to work with Ferrari's Formula One team to develop their 2016 car.

"Everybody in the team is working a lot to get a very competitive car for 2016," Rigon said about the team's upcoming Formula One campaign. "However only the track can tell if the work made at the factory is that good. We have to wait for the first test before we can say something more."

Read the full interview with Davide Rigon HERE

Images: Ferrari Media

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