In GTE-Am, the 488 of Clearwater Racing third with Weng Sun Mok, Keita Sawa and Matt Griffin ahead of Molina-Flohr-Castellacci for Spirit of Race
Francorchamps, May 2017 – Ferrari pulled off a resounding one-two in the GTE-Pro class at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, the second round of the World Endurance Championship (WEC). Davide Rigon and Sam Bird, with the 488 GTE no. 71 of AF Corse, repeated last year’s triumph in the Ardennes, finishing a few seconds ahead of teammates Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado in car no. 51. This result puts Ferrari ahead of Ford in the Constructors’ championship, while the two crews are joint second in the drivers’ rankings. Ferrari also took a podium in the GTE-Am class with the 488 GTE of Clearwater Racing driven by Mok Weng Sun, Keita Sawa and Matt Griffin.
GTE-Pro. Davide Rigon started the race on pole and then maintained his lead over the two Fords. After about 40 minutes difficulty in lapping for the first Fords compacted the cars from second to fourth, allowing James Calado, in Ferrari no. 51, to pull off one of the greatest overtaking of recent years. The British driver pulled up beside both American cars on the Kemmel straight and then completed the move entering Les Combes. After the first pit stop the Ferraris found themselves chasing the Ford of Olivier Pla who had not changed tyres. On a track where heavy tyre consumption played a big role, the two 488 GTEs easily made up the gap and were in a position to go on the attack. Alessandro Pier Guidi, in car no. 51, overtook the Ford before Eau Rouge but then was held up by a Toyota that pushed him wide at Les Combes. At that point Sam Bird in no. 71 closed the gap and attacked his teammate. The 488 GTEs came into contact but were both able to continue the race with car no. 71 ahead of no. 51. The turning point came at the beginning of the fourth hour, when for the second time the race was neutralised with a Full Course Yellow obliging everyone to cut their speed to 80 km/h. Both Ferraris entered the pitlane and gained a lot of time on all their opponents. At the restart the two Ferraris were very close together but had a lead of almost a minute over Ford no. 66, in third. Towards the end, tyre management recommended a change to the team of car no. 51, during which Calado replaced Pier Guidi. However, the team decided to take a risk with no. 71 by just refuelling. Sam Bird finished ahead of Calado and the Ford no. 66 of Pla-Mucke-Johnson. With this triumph, Ferrari’s 18th in the GTE-Pro class, the Maranello brand leads the Constructors’ Championship with 72 points against Ford’s 65. Priaulx-Tincknell-Derani (Ford no. 67) top the drivers’ standings on 38 points against 36 for the two Ferrari crews.
GTE-Am. Ferrari secured a podium finish in the GTE-Am class. In a difficult race the 488 of Clearwater Racing crewed by Mok Weng Sun, Keita Sawa and Matt Griffin finished ahead of Miguel Molina, Francesco Castellacci and Thomas Flohr on the other Ferrari entered by Spirit Of Race team. The class victory went to the Aston Martin of Dalla LanaLamy-Lauda, while the Toyota of Buemi-Davidson-Nakajima was the overall winner. The next round is in mid-June with the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Antonello Coletta, Head of Attività Sportive GT: “We had an almost perfect weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, securing a one-two in the GTE-Pro class, which we haven’t done for a long time, and a third place in the GTE-Am class with Clearwater Racing. We also won the point for pole position. In the race, the engineers mapped out the best strategies to the point that in the last part of the race we had to manage a very big lead over our opponents. Davide Rigon was the fastest in qualifying and made no mistakes in the race, but Sam Bird put in a big contribution to the victory by handling a double stint in the final part made even trickier by the rain that had started falling on the circuit. Congratulations also go to Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado, who had a superb race that yielded them second place for the second consecutive race. These points give us the lead in the Constructors’ World Championship with both crews just two points behind the leader of the drivers’ standings”.
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Davide Rigon, driver Ferrari #71, GTE-Pro class winner: “I’m very happy to be back on the top step of the podium. I was waiting for this moment for a year and I must say that this weekend was really perfect. In qualifying as in the race the 488 GTE responded impeccably and even the strategy at the pitwall was perfect. I have to thank everyone: Ferrari, AF Corse, my engineer Brice, and my teammate Sam who has always driven with the bit between his teeth and in the finish was superb at handling a double stint with wet asphalt due to the rain”.
Sam Bird, driver Ferrari #71, GTE-Pro class winner: “I am very happy. This victory repays us for all the work done since the first free practices to optimise all aspects. The race was very complex because tyre management always had to be borne in mind and we had to be very careful not to push too hard. The duel with Alessandro was a bit rough, but we are drivers and, bearing in mind the interest of the team, we are ready to fight to win. I think we certainly put on a great show”.
James Calado, driver Ferrari #51, 2° GTE-Pro class: “Obviously, Alessandro and I would have preferred to have finished on the top step of the podium, but the second place points are important, enabling us to close in on the leaders of the drivers’ standings and help Ferrari in the World Championship standings, which is still the team’s main goal. We hope our car is as competitive in the next round at Le Mans”.
Alessandro Pier Guidi, driver Ferrari #51, 2° GTE-Pro class: “This second place came at the end of a very difficult race. We always had to manage tyres and in the final part were forced to slow our pace to avoid trouble that could have jeopardised the result. Obviously we hope to be able to aim for a win at Le Mans and be in the race for the drivers’ title right to the end of the championship. I’m sure my first win in the WEC is not too far off”.