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Goodyear WEC Preview

The FIA World Endurance Championship will race at Imola for the first time this weekend. The historic venue replaces Monza as the Italian round of the championship which has held a spot on the calendar since 2021.

Imola is a circuit rich with rich motorsport heritage. First holding motorsport events in 1953, it has become one of the world’s most recognisable circuits, with a tight and challenging layout that demands drivers’ full attention throughout the entire race.

Wingfoot award winner Rigon discusses his home race

To preview the weekend, Goodyear caught up with local driver, and winner of the first LMGT3 Wingfoot Award, Davide Rigon. At the opening round at Qatar, Rigon, in the #54 AF Corse Ferrari 296 GT3 alongside teammates Francesco Castellacci and Thomas Flohr, finished fifth in class but his consistent pace throughout the stint earned him the Goodyear Wingfoot Award trophy.

“It will be tougher for all of us than Qatar, also because the track is narrower and there’s no margin for mistakes,” explains Rigon.

“Driving at Imola is always amazing, I really love the track. Driving style will play a major role here because it’s an ‘old style’ track, where every mistake will cost a lot. Compared to the recent past, the kerbs are pretty high, there is a new tarmac surface and, in general, there is more gravel now outside. Again, no margin for mistakes and track limits will have to be strictly respected otherwise you lose a lot of time.”

Rigon is hungry for the challenge of racing in front of his home fans: “I can’t wait to start the weekend. Racing in front of the Tifosi will provide an extra boost, for sure. They’ve always been amazing and support us wherever we race.”

After winning the Wingfoot Award at Qatar, Rigon thanked his team for such a strong first race: “I am delighted to start the season with the Wingfoot Award. This award is important because it is a testament that the work we have done together with the team is good. The 296 GT3 at Qatar was amazing to drive and during my double stint, it was really enjoyable around the track. Speed, consistency and good lap times are not possible if you don’t have a car that is gentle but also effective on its tyres.”

On the topic of Goodyear’s new LMGT3 tyre specification, the Ferrari driver was equally complimentary: “During the long runs in Qatar, I was pushing and the tyre was providing a positive feeling throughout the stint.”

“The tyres are very important and to make them work properly there is a lot of work that we are doing with the team, the engineers, with Ferrari to find the best possible setup for the entire crew, something that has worked for me and my teammates. Since I knew that I had to make a double stint, I was focused on tyre preparation and consistency.

Goodyear Racing’s Mike McGregor on Imola

To explain some of the challenges for teams and drivers, Goodyear’s Endurance Program Manager Mike McGregor gave his preview ahead of the weekend: “As the season moves from the high lateral demands of Qatar to the tighter and twisty layout of Imola, we expect to see a slightly different form guide between manufacturers here. The emphasis will be on setting the car up to handle the bumps and kerbs. Meanwhile, there’s a lot of time to be gained on the brakes here, too.

“Tyre wear will be less sensitive than Qatar, due to the expected lower temperatures and track characteristics. It’s a smooth track, too, so expect teams to run multiple stints per tyre.

“The Wingfoot Award captures why Goodyear competes in top-level endurance racing,” adds McGregor. “The ability to perform consistently and preserve tyre life throughout a stint is the key to any successful endurance racing campaign.

“Finally, congratulations to Davide Rigon and AF Corse for taking home the first Wingfoot Award trophy of the LMGT3 era.”