The racing journey of the 488 GTE started with a fourth place finish earned by the Scuderia Corsa team. The 24 Hours of Daytona was a true baptism of fire and the new Ferrari intended for GT competitions displayed great speed, finishing at the top among the first-time participants, as two other models of competing manufacturers had their debut in the same race.
As is often the case in Daytona, the first hours of the race were not especially meaningful, although they were enough to demonstrate the potential of the 488 GTE. In fact, all three Ferraris competing in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class led for at least one lap during the first 12 hours of the race, and this although car No. 68 of Scuderia Corsa did not have an easy start because of a fuel pressure problem that forced Alessandro Pier Guidi to start from the back of the field. On the other hand, the 488 No. 72 of SMP Racing team had a great start and after disappointing qualifications, Gianmaria “Gimmi” Bruni was able to gain one position after another, even taking the lead a number of times while being driven by Bruni himself, but also by James Calado, Viktor Shaytar, and Andrea Bertolini. Car No. 62 of Risi Competizione team was also constantly among the leaders, being able to keep first place for several laps with Toni Vilander, but also being competitive with Giancarlo Fisichella, Davide Rigon and Olivier Beretta. The race of this car was affected by a rear-end collision caused by one of the Fords early in the morning. The accident wrecked the Ferrari’s diffuser and caused a long stop at the box that irreparably compromised the final outcome. In the end, it finished sixth, a useful result in terms of the championship.
On the other hand, the car of SMP Racing did not finish the race, which seemed to lead to a certain podium position until it was interrupted by the breakdown of a turbine. The Chevrolet of Gavin-Milner- Fassler won the race.
Two Ferrari 458 Italia raced in the other GT class and turned out to be very competitive. However, both crews were unlucky in their strategies, as they ended up paying too heavily for some pit stops made under the green flag. Both car No. 63 of Scuderia Corsa and No. 51 of the Spirit of Race team led the race for at least one lap, but slipped to the back of the field toward the end of the race. At the finish, the car driven by Christina Nielsen, Jeff Segal, Alessandro Balzan and Robert Renauer was in seventh place, while car No. 51 of Peter Mann, Raffaele Giammaria, Marco Cioci and Matteo Cressoni was just out of the top ten. The Ligier of Sharp-Brown-Van Overbeek-Derani won the overall race. The second event of the championship is scheduled for mid-March, when another great classic of American motor sports will take place: the 12 Hours of Sebring.