image credit: Kelvin Pope / SportsCarGlobal.

We jumped at the opportunity to have a chat with James Calado (JC) about the new Ferrari 488 GTE. Here are some great thoughts on the car, the 2016 GTE-Pro class and the rejoined battle between Ferrari and Ford.

SCG – Hi James tell us more about your 2016 car the stunning & honed Ferrari 488 GTE

JC – Whilst it looks similar it is very different underneath, firstly Ferrari chose to do a different engine project so we have gone to turbo which took a bit  of a while to get used to. It requires a slightly different driving style, but now it has been developed it is working well. We took it out for its first 24-hours at Daytona and although we did not finish it was not because of that, it was working fine. The engine works, the other big gain is the aerodynamics which delivers more downforce, all internally, the steering wheel etc is all more modern, which is easier for us to communicate and control.

SCG – Sad to say goodbye to the 458 Italia?

JC – Yes, but it is nice to drive the modern technology and its ultimately quicker. The 458 was at its limit, there was nothing we could do to make it go quicker. A significant step up in performance with the 488 and  it is a nicer drive.

SCG – The aero we all see these massive diffusers out the back, but assume that is balanced elsewhere in the car?

JC – The whole floor has changed and delivers more, and if you look at the #51 car we have a larger splitter, which is more efficient, not huge, but enough to make a positive difference.

SCG – Perfect for snowploughing perhaps?!

JC – err No! That is not going to work!

SCG – For Ferrari we hark back to 1965 and the last overall Le Mans win, in the emerging battle with Ford. How do you feel being a part of the modern story?

JC – Well I was minus 23! But it is nice that Ford are in the championship, its nice that all the manufacturers are in the GTE-Pro championship. No doubt Ford will be very strong at Le Mans, their goal is clearly to try and win it that is what is important to them. We will do everything we can to stop it. But it is nice, we will see some very competitive close racing, the car looks beautiful, and I’m sure it is going to go quick.

SCG – The Ford GT is  a lovely looking car, but back in the 60s they did not have immediate success, and Daytona looked like an equally tough battle for them, so let see how they go.  In terms of the testing of the new Ferrari 488 GTE components, engine, etc.. you are satisfied with the progress made?

JC – Yes absolutely it is to the standard you would expect at Ferrari, a huge amount of effort has gone in over the winter to ensure its reliability. It is no doubt more reliable than the 458 just through its modern build standards and quality, we’ve had no issues really, just new car niggles.

SCG – Any of the other GTE-Pro challengers worry you?

JC – To be honest it is difficult, I don’t know about them. We can only do our best, I know that we have a good car under neither us, I know I have a great team of guys working alongside me including Gimmi who is very talented and quick who will teach me everything I need to know. We will see, we won’t know true potential until Le Mans, I’m sure Ford are holding back quite a lot and will turn it all up for then. We will see then.

SCG – We note that you are looking very trim this season, having lost 6 kilos over the winter break, which is very good news. Just tell us more about the reasons for your heightened level of fitness?

JC – Firstly being promoted to the #51 car the game has to be raised in every aspect. losing weight is an obvious advantage in terms of performance, but not only that the seats no longer move forward and back in the new cars and myself and Gimmi wanted to be on similar belt positions and foam inserts. We have pretty much achieved identical height and weight through hard training over the winter nothing more to it really.  The other thing is GTE  is getting so competitive and every tiny advantage that we can  take opportunity of we need to take it, and a bit of weight-loss was one of the things.

SCG – I’m sure back at the factory they appreciate your personal commitment, and everyone at SportsCarGlobal wishes you every success this year. Thank you for the time.