The Florida-based organization’s Ferrari F458 Italia led from the third lap and never relinquished control of the race, despite facing strong opposition from the likes of Aston Martin and Corvette.
Francorchamps, Belgium – For many new teams, it could often take years before achieving success in the highest form of sportscar racing. But in only its second start in the FIA World Endurance Championship, 8Star Motorsports broke through to claim a historic maiden victory in Saturday’s 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
While a safety car period in the second hour helped solidify their lead, consistent stints from all three drivers, including FIA WEC debutant Malucelli, who recorded the fastest race lap in GTE-Am, proved that 8Star was the team to beat all day. Malucelli drove the No. 81 Ferrari to its first-ever checkered flag, finishing one lap clear of the nearest competition.
“It was an amazing race,” said Potolicchio. “This is the first win for 8Star Motorsports and I couldn’t be more proud of the effort everyone put in to make this happen. Rui and Matteo drove great stints and we managed to stay in the lead for most of the race. I’m really happy to have them as teammates as I learned a lot.
“Spa was the only race last year that I didn’t get on the podium in the FIA WEC and we ended up with a win here. It's an unbelievable weekend,” Potolicchio added. “I have to thank the entire team, including the crew back in Florida who weren’t able to celebrate with us tonight. We’re one big team and we will be looking for continued success together in the races to come.”
Following his World Championship-winning season in LMP2 last year, which included victories at Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Potolicchio has become the first driver to win in both a prototype and GTE class in the FIA WEC. Adding to the historical significance, 8Star is only the second American team to claim victory in the series, which features some of the world’s most accomplished teams.
The race didn't come easy for 8Star, though, as all three drivers had to stay on their toes, especially around a number of LMP1 cars, which often made aggressive overtaking moves on the Ferrari. One incident, which tore off the right-side mirror, resulted in the team having to replace the entire door during a routine pit stop.
“We had to push all the way,” Aguas said. “Enzo did very good in his double stint and we knew we had to gain an advantage because we knew how fast the Aston Martins would be. We were able to increase our lead of 25 seconds to almost 1 minute and 50 seconds. The team did an excellent job. The car was very competitive all weekend. The three of us worked very well together. We’re looking forward to Le Mans for sure.”
As a result of the victory, as well as the podium finish in last month’s 6 Hours of Silverstone, 8Star has moved into second place in the FIA WEC Endurance Trophy in GTE-Am and will be in prime position to attack for top honors in the world-renowned 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 22-23. An official test day on the legendary Circuit de La Sarthe will kick off proceedings on June 9.
8Star will be looking to continue its winning ways next weekend, but on home soil, as it takes part in the American Le Mans Series Monterey presented by Patron on May 9-11 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in both the ALMS Prototype Challenge and Cooper Tires Prototype Lites powered by Mazda categories.