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Ferrari's F40 LeMans Racer
 
One of the most sought after cars at Bonhams auction in Monaco tomorrow will be Lot No 234, one of the two full competition specification Ferrari F40 LMs that were raced with great distinction by Maranello's official French importer Charles Pozzi. The F40 LM that Bonhams will present at their 20th anniversary auction, to be held in the motoring museum of HSH Prince Rainier III on Monday, was completed in 1990 by Michelotto and during a short but illustrious career it was piloted by a string of famous names including Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Jean-Louis Schlesser, Olivier Grouillard, Jacques Lafitte, Hurley Haywood and Michel Ferte. Bonhams have put an estimate of 1,000,000 to 1,250,000 euros on this car.

For Ferrari’s fortieth anniversary as a constructor under his own name he gave his design team a very simple instruction: “Build a car to be the best in the world.” Time has shown that they complied. The F40 was a simple machine that, like the greatest Ferraris of the past, relied upon its engine for its performance. Suspension and layout were conventional and there were no serious attempts to employ cutting edge technology. The F40 was good, sound, basic design with a superb twin turbocharged engine, aerodynamics heavily weighted toward downforce and stability and generous use of lightweight composite materials. Electronics were important, but they served the engine only. There was no ABS, no traction control, no electro-hydraulic paddle shifting and no stability control.
   
The chassis was, like the Ferrari 125 built forty years before, based upon two large diameter steel tubes. They were joined and stiffened by lightweight composite structures, to be sure, but the basic structure was as rudimentary as the ones welded together in the Gilco shops a generation earlier. With a 201 mph top speed and sub-4.0 second 0-60 time, no one was disappointed with the F40. Even the aggressive rear wing was accepted as necessary for aerodynamic stability and in deference to Pininfarina’s history with Ferrari and its wind tunnel testing and development of the F40’s design. Ferrari proposed only a limited run of 400 or so F40s but the model’s reception was overwhelming, even at over US$250,000 apiece, and the run kept growing until 1,315 were built by the time production ended in 1991.
   
Competition was not in Ferrari’s original plan for the F40 but Daniel Marin, managing director of French Ferrari importer Charles Pozzi SA, took the initiative and induced Ferrari to authorize Michelotto, the famed Padova Ferrari service centre whose previous credits included the 308 GTB Group 4 and Group B racing cars, to construct a series of F40 LMs for racing under IMSA rules in the U.S. Just nineteen were built, although only the first two, destined for Pozzi, were actually raced to any significant extent. By way of comparison with another great racing GT from an earlier generation, the two Pozzi racers are to other F40 LMs what ‘1 VEV’ and ‘2 VEV’ are to other Aston Martin DB4GT Zagatos, of which there were also nineteen. Do not confuse this F40 LM with a ‘plain vanilla’ customer version.
   
Chassis ‘79891’ is the second of the two Pozzi F40 LMs. Records show it was completed by Michelotto on 16th January 1990. Although it was raced in North America that season by Pozzi under the Ferrari-France banner along with its sister, chassis ‘79890’, it remained under Ferrari’s ownership and wasn’t formally delivered to Pozzi until 25th January 1991. Driven by an impressive roster of international sprint and endurance star drivers including Jean-Pierre Jabouille, Jean-Louis Schlesser, Olivier Grouillard, Jacques Lafitte, Hurley Haywood and Michel Ferte, it scored two podium finishes, third at Mid-Ohio in June with Jabouille/Grouillard and second at Mosport with Lafitte/Haywood just two weeks later, in its five race appearances.
As a factory-backed development car it benefits from a series of enhancements and upgrades including titanium connecting rods and 9:1 compression ratio pistons giving its twin turbocharged, intercooled engine a breathtaking 850 horsepower at 7,500 rpm. That translates into a top speed of 367 km per hour (228 mph).

Ferrari F40 LM ‘79891’ was retained by Ch. Pozzi SA until its present Swiss owner was able to acquire it in 2003. Throughout its life ‘79891’ has been carefully and consistently maintained in as-raced condition. It retains its original F120B engine (number ‘02’), has been certified authentic by Ferrari Classiche in March 2007 and has its FIA Identity papers. In addition to its important competition history and originality, this Ferrari F40 LM and its sibling ‘79890’ (still owned by Pozzi) established a successful pattern for design, modification, construction, development and racing of Ferrari GT and sports-racing cars in the modern era. From these two F40 LMs sprang a new generation of two-seat Ferrari competition cars that run up to today’s victorious F430 GT2.

Ferrari F40 LM ‘79891’ represents a singularly important milestone in Ferrari history. It is eligible for, and competitive in, a wide variety of historic and Ferrari events and its status as one of the original run of factory-built Ferrari F40 LMs means it is one of very few of these exciting automobiles which will ever be eligible for Ferrari Classiche certification and, as of the 2009 race season, participation in the Ferrari-Maserati Challenge series where it should shine.

© 2009 Interfuture Media/Italiaspeed

 
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