Ferrari driver Marco Cioci has vowed to return to the Bathurst 12 Hour next year following AF Corse’s early exit from the 2014 event.
The Italian outfit has endured a nightmare weekend on the Mountain, with its 458 involved in two major accidents.
The team missed the majority of Friday practice after a crash in the first session that saw its Australian driver Steve Wyatt make contact with both the Equity-One Audi and Vicious Rumour Racing Ferrari.
Another crash for Wyatt in second qualifying today, this time a single-car accident at The Cutting, has subsequently caused enough damage to the rear of the Ferrari’s chassis to rule it out of the weekend.
The Cioci/Wyatt/Michele Rugulo Ferrari is the fourth GT entry to be withdrawn due to crash damage following the demise of the #49 Vicious Rumour Racing Ferrari, #68 Motorsport Services Porsche and #5 Melbourne Performance Centre Audi.
“I completely love this race and this track, even though we are going home,” Cioci told Speedcafe.com as the team prepared to head back to Italy.
“If you make a mistake it makes you pay a lot here and often you see teams going home before the race.
“We had a very unlucky weekend because everything was ready but unfortunately yesterday there was a misunderstanding with other cars and a crash and then today when you are qualifying anything can happen.
“I am sorry for Steve because he is one of the best gentleman in these GT3 cars.
“Last year he did a good job and this year with more miles was sure to be one of the quickest Am drivers.”
“For sure, this is one reason more to be back next year,” he added.
“Maybe we are so unlucky in this addition we can be more lucky in the next one.”
Cioci competes full-time in the World Endurance Championship and part-time in the United Sportscar Championship for Ferrari.
He hopes that the remaining two 458s, the #33 of Clearwater Racing and #88 of Maranello Motorsport, can contend for the win tomorrow but concedes that the Erebus Mercedes entries will be hard to beat.
“Both cars for sure can win because they have good teams and good drivers,” he said of the Matt Griffin/Craig Baird/Mok Weng Sun and Mika Salo/Craig Lowndes/John Bowe/Peter Edwards entries.
“I’m impressed about Mercedes, as was last year, but also the Nissan. They have a good chance to make a good result.
“The race is so hard that any of the three can win, and also Audi, but checking the race pace the Mercedes is a little in front.”