Had the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps – which ran throughout the six hours under clear skies and bright sunshine – lasted one lap more, several results might have been different!
As the chequered flag flew in Belgium, it was a Ferrari victory in both classes and the result sees the Italian manufacturer take a six point lead over Aston Martin in the classification for the World Endurance Cup for GT Manufacturers. AF Corse’s No.51 Ferrari won the LMGTE Pro class, while the No.81 8Star Motorsports F458 Italia clinched victory in LMGTE Am.
Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella won the Pro class by 9 seconds over the No.98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 of Bruno Senna-Frederic Makowiecki –Rob Bell, but the gap might have been considerably larger had the Roman pairing not had to serve two stop/go penalties for on track infringements during the race.
Gianmaria Bruni, Nr51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia said: “I think the biggest advantage for this race, like everybody else, was the fact we received the new tyres and they suit our car very well. Michelin bring us a very good compound, they last longer and that was the key. To be honest we are still behind the Astons, they were doing more laps than us in every stint but anyway I am very happy, because it was a very good race. I hope it was a good race to watch because from the cockpit it was amazing.”
Giancarlo Fisichella, Nr51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia said: “First of all I’d like to say thank you to AF Corse because they did a fantastic job today. I’m really looking forward to Le Mans, it is the most important race of the season, which we won last year, and of course we want to do it again. We know it is going to be very tough but we will do our best.”
Third in class was the No.71 Ferrari of Kamui Kobayashi and Toni Vilander, who led for a good many laps, but who finally lost out to their sister AF Corse car at the last round of pit stops. They were on a charge to the end though, and missed a second place finish by just one second at the chequered flag.
Penalties were the order of the day in both GTE classes and Aston Martin’s No.98 and No.97 were just two cars which had to serve them, in their case for making stops while the pits were still closed just after the safety car period came to an end. All three of the No.98 car’s drivers pushed hard to make up the difference but their fight for victory fell just a few laps short.
In LMGTE Am, the race belonged to the AF Corse-managed No.81 8Star Motorsports Ferrari almost from the green flag. It took WEC debutant Matteo Malucelli just three laps to pass the pole-sitting No.95 Aston Martin Vantage of Nygaard-Poulsen-Simonsen and he, together with his teams mates Enzo Potolocchio and Rui Aguas, never relinquished their hold on the lead. The orange 8Star Ferrari survived unwanted attention from an LMP1 car and had to pit to replace a broken wing mirror, but it didn’t delay them unduly.
Enzo Potolicchio, Nr81 8 Star Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italia said: “It’s amazing to win here. To be part of 8 Star and AF Corse is amazing. I’m learning a lot and the guys really help, I’m so happy to be here. We’re taking the win here, looking forward to Le Mans but the Aston Martin and the Corvette will be strong.”
Matteo Malucelli, Nr81 8 Star Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italia: “At the beginning I was fast, I gained maybe five seconds on the Aston Martin but after two laps I looked in the mirror and he was just behind me. It was a surprise, I think he was joking with me, but we took the win, we have the trophy, so we have to be happy.”
The No.95 finished in second place one lap behind the winner, with the No.50 Larbre Competition Corvette C6R-ZR1 of Bornhauser-Canal-Rees a further lap down.
It was a fine race for GT cars and the perfect dress rehearsal for the next round of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship and the biggest sportscar race in the world – the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Next rendez-vous will be in Le Mans for the 90th anniversary edition of the race on 22nd-23rd June. By Melissa Warren