Ferrari 458 Grand Am debuting at Daytona

Ferrari is headed to the Daytona 24 Hours with a new Grand Am version of the company's 458 Italia. The 458 Grand Am borrows heavily from the GT3 version of the supercar, though with an eye towards competition here in the States. Like the GT3, the Grand Am car was prepared for battle by the same house that's been responsible for race-bred Ferrari models since the 288 GTO: Michelotto Automobili. Expect to see the cars share plenty of safety and performance hardware when the 458 Grand Am bows at the Daytona 24 Hours in January.

Ferrari has picked a star-studded crew for this year's race. Michael Waltrip will helm the racer alongside Travis Pastrana, Rui Aguas and Robert Kauffman. The Italian automaker is itching for a victory at the legendary American endurance race, but we doubt it competitors will roll over and take second place. Hit the jump for the full press release.
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The 458 Grand Am makes its USA debut

Maranello, 6 December – The Daytona 24 Hours, which takes place from 26 to 29 January at Florida's Daytona International Speedway will feature the racing debut of the 458 Grand Am. The car is derived from the GT3 version of the 458, the latest racing model of the Ferrari sports car, developed in collaboration with Michelotto and aimed at the American series.

The famous race will bring to mind the race back on 5 February 1967, when all three steps of the podium were filled by Ferrari drivers, highlighting the dominance of the Maranello marque across the Pond. The crews of Lorenzo Bandini-Chris Amon in the Ferrari 330 P4 Spider, Mike Parkes – Ludovico Scarfiotti in the Ferrari 330 P4 sports car and Pedro Rodriguez-Jean Guichet in the Ferrari 412 P produced an amazing result, thanks to an impeccable strategy thought out by Sporting Director Franco Lini over the last few laps, culminating in the three cars taking the chequered flag in line abreast. This clean sweep, with a win in the Monza 1000 Kms, second place at Brands Hatch and the Le Mans 24 Hours and a third place at Spa, meant that Ferrari won that year's International Sports Prototype Constructors' Championship. Ferrari then had to wait until 1998 to take its next win in the Daytona 24 Hours, thanks to the Team Momo F333 SP which also won that year's Sebring 2 Hours.

In 2012, it will fall to Scuderia AF Corse, winners of the Le Mans Series, Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and the FIA GT3 championship to try and replicate these American victories. Its 458 Grand Am will be crewed all year by Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip, North American Rally Champion, Travis Pastrana and two endurance race veterans Rui Aguas and Robert Kauffman who here in Daytona tackle the first of 13 rounds on the busy Grand Am calendar.

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