There’s a certain mystique about Ferrari. I was thrilled to be working there that was the most enjoyable thing about my three years on the 333SP project. Having been in this game for a few years, it was great to be part of what can only be described as a magic establishment. But I have to admit that! called up Luca di Montezemolo for one simple reason I needed a job. Group C had finished, and I was out of work.
I’m a bit of a sportscar fan to start with, and the Ferrari 333SP is a real sportscar, not a phoney GT car. Though the funny thing is that I phoned Montezemolo, who I knew from my days with BRM, because I’d heard Ferrari was about to go GT racing, which was just getting going back then.
When I got there they had a little design team going, headed by a bloke called Mauro Rioli. He’d worked in F1 for Ferrari for 14 years or so, on gearboxes and God knows what. The trouble was, and I didn’t find this out until much later, Rioli had never been to a motor race in his life.
By Ferrari standards, it was a fairly weeny operation. We never had more than 12 people. The money was non existent TWR spends much more on its sportscars. It was Piero Ferrari’s project; he was dead keen on it, but he couldn’t get the funds. Fiat wasn’t interested and Montezemolo quickly went cold on the idea because it wasn’t his project, and there was all this talk about it getting in the way of F1. Which, of course, was a load of nonsense.
I reckon Ferrari broke even on the project I think all the cars they sold pretty much paid for everything. So they got a lot of publicity from winning a lot of races for next to nothing.
It was pretty amazing to turn up at our first race, at Road Atlanta, with four cars, and to come away with first, second and fourth. Daytona the following year was a big disappointment because the cars were running like clockwork for 13 hours before the valve seats wore out. But we won at Sebring, which was great because it’s one of the classic races. We won the World Sports Car championship in 1995 as well.
I wouldn’t put the 333SP in the same bracket as some of the old Ferrari sportscars from the 1960s. But if Ferrari hadn’t turned up I don’t think the World Sports Car series would ever have got going.
Matters of moment, May 1987
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