ARTICLE BY STEPHEN KILBEY
GT classes in all forms of endurance racing generally have a standout piece of machinery. Early on the last decade, you couldn’t deny that Porsche ruled the roost. The 911 GT3 RSR is undeniably a superb GT car, and still is today. However the boys at Maranello were able to spoil Stuttgart’s party in 2006 when they replaced the mediocre 350 GTC, with one of the most successful GT cars of all time.
It won 24 Hour races at Le Mans, Silverstone and Spa, the 12 Hour of Sebring, Petit Le Mans 10 hours, and that’s without mentioning all the other series it dominated as well. It won four FIA GT2 titles, three LMS GT2 titles and two ALMS GT2 titles, all this against the toughest competition in the world. It was genuinely hard in its heyday to find any sort of GT based series without a bunch of F430s running in it.
Now though, it’s time has come to an end, the car that has created an Iconic noise around Le Mans over the last six years will never be heard again at La Sarthe. Anyone who has been to Le Mans and stood on the pit straight during the early hours of the morning will be able to remember the unique twang of the up shift from the F430 for a long time, which, because there were always so many of them, became a real background noise that helped make it’s era of Le Mans sound so special and unique.
Most of the best GT teams on the planet chose to use an F430, because it specialised in getting to the finish. That coupled with speed was deadly at endurance races, since it was so rare for one to retire and not finish on the rostrum.
One team to note is Risi Competizione who sadly doesn’t have the funding to compete in top class racing at the moment, yet owe their success in part to the F430. Risi from the get go became such a household name in the American Le Mans Series and at the 24 hours too. They were so dominant at the long races on the calendar, winning three Sebring 12 Hours in a row, two Petit Le Mans titles in a row and, most incredibly, two consecutive Le Mans GT2 wins, that by 2008 betting against Risi was considered laughable to say the least.
That was only one team and one story, I could write page after page explaining the accolades that this piece of kit managed to achieve but I don’t have the time right now. What is important is that tribute is paid to one of the most iconic GT cars of all time which will be missed by Prancing Horse fanatics across the world. For better or worse Le Mans won’t be the same without the F430, and the F430 wouldn’t have been the same without Le Mans.
ARTICLE BY STEPHEN KILBEY