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Ferrari’s returning to Le Mans!*

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Ferrari president Luca di Montezemelo has announced he is open to the idea of the Scuderia’s return to the top tier of Le Mans.

In his Christmas speech to the Maranello factory, di Montezemelo congratulated his minions on their success in GT championships, but also hinted a return to the top tier of Le Mans was a possibility.

“I quite like the idea of racing at Le Mans in the highest category,” he said. “Who knows, maybe one day we can return and win, say thanks and come home. Maybe we should give it some serious consideration…”

Ferrari is the third most successful manufacturer in Le Mans history, taking nine outright victories between 1949 and 1965 (Audi has 12 wins and Porsche 16) with some of the most beautiful, iconic sports cars in history, including the 250 LM and 330 TR. The Scuderia’s battle with Ford’s GT40s in the Sixties – an proxy war for the personal rivalry between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari – remains perhaps the ultimate racing rivalry.

Back in August, when we first reported on a possible Ferrari Le Mans return, a spokesperson for the Scuderia’s motorsports division told us: “In parallel to our Formula 1 programme, we have always paid close attention to other racing series, currently those run for GT cars, as these provide further opportunities for our technology transfer programme to road cars.”

A similar point has been argued by Porsche R&D chief Wolfgang Hatz. By naming Porsche’s new Le Mans challenger 919, Hatz confirmed that as well as being a successor to the achingly cool 917, his hybrid endurance racer could also trace its lineage through the 918 Spyder road car. See? Le Mans victories means supercar success. Racing improves the breed. Track technology is (at least in part) transferable, which is why some version of the 919?s turbo-petrol-plus-electric drivetrain will make its way to the road. And Ferrari, of course, already has a hybrid in the shape of the not-yet-driven LaFerrari…

Now, just imagine. Porsche. Audi. Toyota. Ferrari. All racing at La Sarthe for outright victory. Bring back Jaguar, Bentley and Ford, and we’ve got ourselves a battle royale. Who wouldn’t want to see that?

On a separate note, di Montezemelo also paid tribute to the outgoing Felipe Massa. “It will do Felipe good to get out from Ferrari,” he said. “He will be back with new motivation, like footballers who change teams for a while before returning to their own. The doors of this company will always be open to a man and a driver of his quality…” Could Felipe be a future Ferrari Le Mans pilot? Only time will tell.

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