1998 Ferrari 333 SP Pilots: G. Moretti, M. Baldi, D. Theys Team: Moretti Racing Inc (MOMO) Race: 14th overall (LMP1) at Le Mans in 1998 Minichamps - 430987603 (diecast)
The last Ferrari sports prototype car was the 312PB, of 1973. And the 312PB did pretty well, even with a second-place finish at La Sarthe. However, Maranello’s most famous car brand was having a decade of consistently bad results. With that, Enzo Ferrari decided to concentrate all their energies in F1 racing and cancelled all other works efforts. But in 1993 Giampiero Moretti approached Piero Ferrari with an idea to make a new sports prototype car eligible for the IMSA championship. Upper management at Ferrari thought a car like this could be sold to privateers, and approved the project. To keep costs down, Ferrari contacted Dallara to design the car. And for the same reasons, the engine also had to be something “off the shelf”. Work began in late 1993, and the new 333 SP debuted at the Palm Beach Cavallino Classic in January of 1994.
IMSA regulations specified that the engine could not be larger than 4 liters and had to come from a road car. So they chose the F310E, a modified 1990 F1 engine (from the Ferrari 641 that initially came from the F50). It was a V12 with DOHC and 60 (!) valves, displacing 3997 cm³. With the Weber-Marelli SPI fuel injection it delivered 641 hp at 12.000 rpm. And to control all those Italian horses Maranello used a 5-speed sequential gearbox. The chassis was a carbon fiber and aluminum honeycomb monocoque, covered by carbon composite panels. In reality the chassis was effectively a widened Formula 1 tub that met IMSA’s two-seat requirement. Weighing just 862 kg, the 333 SP could go from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.3 seconds. Therefore, it was a light and a very fast car, and the engine earned a great reputation in F1 for reliability.
The 333 SP did pretty well in many races, always in the hands of privateers. It even won at Sebring in 1995. With the good results in IMSA races, it was natural that someone would take a 333 SP to La Sarthe. With that, the first time a 333 SP raced in the 24 Heures du Mans was in 1995. And it was back in 96 and 97, but the best result was a sixth place in 1997. In 1998, after receiving upgrades to the chassis and engine, Gianpero Moretti’s MOMO team had one 333 SP in the race. However, their car #3 (chassis #019) only managed a 14th place.
Dallara produced 14 units (Michelotto subsequently produced 26 more) of the 333 SP, and it became an icon. In scale it’s pretty nice, though being an old release from Minichamps, it isn’t what I would call refined. Still, “an honest Minichamps”, that may appeal to Le Mans and Ferrari fans alike. However, my specimen came in TERRIBLE shape, and it took me two hours to make it better. If you want to see how I did it, look here.