Iron Lynx has grown “10 times bigger” since last year after taking most of its racing programs in-house for the 2021 season, according to team co-founder Andrea Piccini.
Iron Lynx is competing in six series this year, with a pair of two-car full-season entries in the FIA World Endurance Championship and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup joining its ongoing European Le Mans Series, Michelin Le Mans Cup, Ferrari Challenge and Formula 4 commitments.
The Italian team based near Cesena received technical support from AF Corse for its GTE project last year. That has since become an independent Iron Lynx operation.
Piccini, who co-founded Iron Lynx with fellow racing driver Sergio Pianezzola in 2017, explained that the most recent winter marked a period of exceptional growth for the organization as it worked to accommodate an expanded program.
“We had to hire a lot of people through the winter because the team last year was much smaller,” Piccini told Sportscar365.
“We had some external support as well. This year we are doing most of the project in-house, so we’ve been hiring almost 100 people during the winter to do the projects.
“It’s been a very busy winter. We needed a bit of everything because last year we were doing Michelin Le Mans Cup and Formula 4 in-house. Now we’re also doing ELMS and WEC in-house.
“We have a lot more engineers, people dedicated full-time to developing the cars and we have a simulator in-house to prepare our drivers, so we also need someone dedicated to that.
“Nicola Sgotto, our technical director, arrived from Jakarta where he was living, working for a big team there [Absolute Racing]. He arrived in November, and since then we started building the new structure together with him, looking for engineers, mechanics, technicians.
“It was together with AF Corse last year; now most of it goes in-house with Iron Lynx. It was such a quick growth and we wanted to do it in the proper way.
“We tried to do it step by step, and now we are ready to take over more and more into Iron Lynx. Now most of it is under Iron Lynx, so it’s 10 times bigger than it used to be.”
Piccini admitted that such rapid growth was not envisioned when Iron Lynx was formed, but explained that steps have been taken to ensure a manageable expansion.
“Considering Iron Lynx was born four years ago, we were not expecting to do all this,” said Piccini, who also drives the No. 60 Iron Lynx Ferrari 488 GTE Evo in the WEC.
“It was born as an academy: we had three F4s and three Ferrari Challenges, and the idea was to grow young drivers on one side and gentleman drivers on the other side.
“Suddenly we started racing, and together with Deborah [Mayer, Iron Dames project leader] and Claudio [Schiavoni], we developed more and more ideas. And here we are.
“We had to grow very quickly, and we want to guarantee results, so we decided to have some good partners.
“Now, Iron Lynx is getting stronger and stronger, and is getting ready to deal directly with all the programs we are doing.”
2021 Important Year to “Stabilize” Operation
Piccini explained that Iron Lynx wants to use this current calendar year as an opportunity to steady the ship after four years of swift development.
The team opened its third ELMS term with a win at the 4 Hours of Barcelona, while its new WEC program had a more subdued launch with eighth and ninth at Spa.
Iron Lynx also recently launched its new GTWC Europe program with Ferrari, running the Italian marque’s factory-supported Pro entries in Endurance Cup. It achieved a pair of two-five results on its series debut in the 3 Hours of Monza.
“This year will be important for us to stabilize our situation,” said Piccini.
“We will not do much more this year, because this is enough. We might change some of the programs, leaving something and getting something new, experiencing new markets.
“North America is very interesting as a market. Races like Daytona and Petit Le Mans would be fantastic to be able to take part in that.
“We have to really stabilize the base of the team, and then step-by-step look for new challenges.”
Although stability is the target for this year, like many teams Iron Lynx is assessing how it might navigate the confirmed and potential changes to the global sports car racing landscape in the seasons to come.
“The situation is not 100 percent clear with Hypercar, LMDh and the new rules with GT3,” said Piccini. “In 2023 normally the GTE should finish and GT3 should replace GTE.
“I think we have to see where these racing seasons will go. I think also the FIA and ACO will look very deep into the next races to try and understand what the rules of the future will be.
“I think GT racing can get back to a much more important role. The constructors are very much involved in it at the moment.
“Thinking of Ferrari coming back into Hypercar, it’s something amazing for the fans and media. I think Iron Lynx got into the GT world at the right moment.
“It’s difficult to say today what we will do, because the rules are still really uncertain.
“I think in a couple of years there will be a lot of changes. We will need to be smart to make the right decisions to get into the right markets.”