Returning after a record-breaking 2016 season, Scuderia Corsa and Martin Fuentes will once again reunite for Pirelli World Challenge competition, committing to the “SprintX” championship for 2017. Driving the same No. 7 Ferrari 458 GT3 that led him to nine victories last year, new for this year’s campaign will be the addition of a co-driver, with storied former F1 driver Stefan Johansson behind the wheel. The first two rounds of competition will take place this Saturday and Sunday at the Grand Prix of VIR, located at the scenic VIRginia International Raceway.
While Pirelli World Challenge competition in previous years has spotlighted single-driver entries, the series new “SprintX” format will combine the heritage of endurance racing with the the excitement sprint racing. With all races will featuring two drivers sharing the car, much like at endurance races, all events will be only 60 minutes, putting a premium on maximizing every lap in search of top results.
Martin Fuentes returns to the team as the reigning Pirelli World Challenge GTA category champion following a landmark 2016 season. Last year, not only did he take nine victories, but seven of them consecutively – a record for the Series’ GTA category – and amassing enough points that his championship was clinched with two races remaining in the season.
Returning to competition as Fuentes’ co-driver will be former F1 driver Stefan Johansson. Boasting one of the strongest résumés in motorsport, the Los Angeles resident and current Scuderia Corsa Sporting Director has competed in everything from Formula One, to IndyCar, to driving some of the most legendary cars to ever compete at the 24 Hours of LeMans. Beyond having driven with teammates that included names like Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, the native of Sweden has also enjoyed a fantastic history with the Ferrari brand, driving for their Formula One team from 1985-1986.
For Fuentes, the opportunity to return to competition in 2017 is one he has looked forward to.
“I’m very excited to be back with Scuderia Corsa and racing this 2017 championship,” stated Fuentes. “I’m looking forward to a great season just like we had in 2016, and there’s new challenges of course. There’s two championships that we’ll be fighting for this year, and I’m very excited and motivated. I’m in great shape, and have done my pre-season training and I’m in the best shape of my life and I’m looking forward to a good start for both championships in the Pirelli World Challenge and Ferrari Challenge as well.”
For Stefan Johansson, a return to driving is an exciting one.
“I really look forward to returning to the cockpit with this program, it’s always something special to be racing for Ferrari” stated Johansson. “We’ve worked hard to develop this organization, and having Martin return to the team is a great testament to what we continue to build. He obviously had a tremendous 2016 season, so I’m confident that with the two of us teaming together we can have a great season, we’re both prepared and ready. The Pirelli World Challenge’s SprintX championship is a really interesting approach, and the current roster of teams and drivers is at a very high level, it should be a great experience.”
For Team Owner Giacomo Mattioli, the team’s return to Pirelli World Challenge competition is one they have all looked forward to.
“We are delighted to be back with Martin and the Pirelli World Challenge,” stated Mattioli. “Our 2016 program together was a big part of Scuderia Corsa amazing 2016 season and, with Stefan’s return, all the ingredients are there to continue that legacy in to 2017. We’ll be one of very few teams representing Ferrari, and we are looking forward to deliver a good show!”
Practice for the Grand Prix of VIR begins this Friday, April 28, with races taking place on Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29. Live event coverage can be found on http://world-challenge.com/streamvideo/ , with continuous updated provided via the team’s social media accounts as the event draws closer. Delayed television coverage will also be available on CBS Sports Network the following Sunday, May 7, at 6PM ET.