The FIA WEC 6 Hours of Silverstone proved to be a happy hunting ground for the AF Corse team as they took wins in both the LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am categories. The #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia of Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella won the LMGTE Pro class in a hard fought race, while the #61 AF Corse-Waltrip Ferrari 458 Italia of Piergiuseppe Perrazzini, Marco Cioci and Matt Griffin were victorious in LMGTE Am finishing ahead of the nr50 Larbre Competition Corvette and the #88 Team Felbermayr-Proton Porsche.
From the start of the race the LMGTE Pro battle was raging fiercely with pole sitter Richard Lietz holding onto the lead in the #77 Felbermayr-Proton Porsche while Gianmaria Bruni in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari and Darren Turner in the nr97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage were trading places, with Turner ending the opening hour ahead of the Italian.
It was more of the same in the next 60-minutes as the LMGTE Pro class provided some of the best racing.
The #97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage of Stefan Mucke closed the gap to less than a second to the leading #77 Felbermayr-Proton Porsche of Marc Lieb, with the #51 AF Corse Ferrari of Giancarlo Fisichella keeping pace with the two lead cars.
Disaster struck as the race approached the halfway point when the #77 Felbermayr-Proton Porsche suffered a rear suspension problem and had to crawl back to the pits for repairs, leaving the #97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage in the class lead.
However the lead soon changed when the Aston Martin made a pitstop and the AF Corse Ferrari took the lead with Gianmaria Bruni back in the cockpit of the 458, with the Italian holding a 22 second advantage as the race entered the final stages.
At the chequered flag the #51 AF Corse crossed the line to take the victory two laps ahead of the JMW Motorsport Ferrari of James Walker and Jonny Cocker with the #97 Aston Martin taking the final podium position after a clash with the #71 AF Corse Ferrari of Andrea Bertolini at the final corner which saw the Ferrari beached in the gravel trap.
The LMGTE Am class was closely fought, with the #61 AF Corse-Waltrip Ferrari holding the early lead, then it was the #50 Larbre Competition Corvette, followed by the #88 Team Felbermayr-Proton Porsche in the later stages of the 6 hour race. As the race drew to a close it was the #61 AF Corse-Waltrip 458 that was ahead and the car crossed the line 54 seconds ahead of their nearest rival. However at post race scrutineering the #50 Larbre Competition Corvette was excluded for not complying with the safety rules.
LMGTE Manufacturers World Cup
1. Ferrari 197 Points
2. Porsche 97 Points
3. Chevrolet Corvette 97 Points
#51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia LMGTE-Pro
Gianmaria Bruni: “In the race we were able to follow the Porsche as close as possible until we got into LMP traffic. The Aston was coming up on us very fast and managed to overtake me and the Porsche. Our strategy was to try and be at the same speed as them but at the same time use less fuel. That was our plan and I think we achieved it 100%. We did more laps on a stint than the other Ferraris, between me and Giancarlo.
“I think at the moment the Porsches and Astons are very fast on performance and very consistent on their tyres, but the safety cars didn’t affect us as they were for a short time. They would have had to be 15-20 laps for our competitors to have been able to gain on us.”
Giancarlo Fisichella: “It was a great race and it’s a fantastic feeling following on from Le Mans 24 Hours. We won here last year and the championship so we’re good on this type of circuit. As usual it was a tough race but it was one we could control from the beginning, keeping close to the Porsche and Aston Martin.
Because our fuel consumption is good we knew at the end of the race they needed to do an extra pit stop compared to us so it was a perfect race for us. The AF Corse guys did a fantastic job – they were very quick. I had just one contact from the back, don’t know from who, and lost the car in turn one but was able to keep in on the track and it was good to go to the end of the race for the win.”
#61 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia LMGTE-Am
Marco Cioci: “It was a good battle and we had the same strategy as the No.51 car. We tried to save fuel but it was hard at the beginning as the Aston Martin and Porsche were very quick. Our strategy was to be as quick as possible and save one pit stop. Piergiuseppe Perrazini was great and saved more fuel than anybody – Matt did an incredible double stint and saved fuel.
The car was perfect. Some prototypes made it a very exciting race – I heard often about Pro-Am accidents but today I saw some incredible risky driving from an LMP1 in the last 8 laps but we finished in the best position so I am happy about this.”
Piergiuseppe Perrazini: “It was good to get the victory here - my second race in the world championship. It was a very important victory for me because, after the big crash at the 24 hours, there was a lot of discussion about me. Now this is the greatest satisfaction for me and the team because I had a bad period after that crash.”
Matt Griffin: “We were confident after Friday because we had good pace in the car and we realised we were very good on fuel like the other AF Corse Ferraris. We still had to push which is difficult for a driver when you are on a fuel saving map and are still on the limit, pushing as hard as you can go. It started to become clear during my double stint that things were getting better and my pit board was making me happier every lap I came round.
We had a slight issue with air jacks at the last pit stop but then Marco got in and was able to control the race for the last stint. The WEC races are hard and the drivers are good so to win them you need every piece of the puzzle to fit into place – the team and the drivers to do the maximum job and today we did that. I’m chuffed to win at Silverstone – I’m not British but it’s still my home race so I’m really happy.”
Source: FIA WEC