Robert De Niro is to play Enzo Ferrari in a new biopic about the motor racing entrepreneur.

The 71-year-old actor, who's previously starred as Jake LaMotta in the Martin Scorsese-directed 'Raging Bull', has revealed his pride at being cast in the role of one of motor sport's most famous names, saying it will take priority over his other ongoing projects.

He told Italian newspaper Il Messaggero: ''It is an honour to tell the life of an extraordinary man who revolutionised the world of motor sport.

''The film will go into production soon, mostly in Italy, and has absolute priority over all my other projects.''

Ferrari died in 1988 at the age of 90, having founded the Scuderia Ferrari racing team, as well as the iconic car company that bears his name.

It remains unclear whether the film - which is expected to cover a period from 1945 to the 1980s - will be shot in English, Italian or a mixture of the two.

However, neither will prove a major obstacle for De Niro, who learned the Sicilian dialect for 'The Godfather: Part II' and also spoke Italian in the romantic comedy 'The Ages of Love'.