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Cetilar’s Fuoco “Took Back What I Almost Lost” After Penalty

Antonio Fuoco reflects on bouncing back from mistake to seal GTD win for Cetilar…

Photo: Cetilar Racing

Antonio Fuoco said that he “took back what I almost lost” in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring after recovering from a drive-through penalty for contact to secure GTD honors for Cetilar Racing.

The Ferrari factory driver delivered the race-winning overtake in the No. 47 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 that he shared with Giorgio Sernagiotto and Roberto Lacorte, with a move that came after bouncing back from a drive-through penalty with five hours to go.

A speculative late-braking move on Turner Motorsport’s Bill Auberlen resulted in Fuoco tapping the No. 96 BMW M4 GT3 off the road during a mid-race lead battle.

The Italian incurred a penalty from IMSA officials but he and Sernagiotto managed to bring Cetilar back into contention, with Fuoco overtaking several drivers.

Fuoco completed the team’s final two stints and spent less than 20 minutes hunting down Auberlen’s ten-second advantage before dispatching the BMW driver cleanly at Turn 15.

The gap then increased to more than 20 seconds as the race clock ticked down without any late full course caution interruptions.

Asked if he was pushing himself after spinning Auberlen around, Fuoco told Sportscar365: “A bit yes, because I realized I did a small mistake.

“I tried to be a bit aggressive but it was the only chance to overtake them because they were a bit quicker than us in the straight.

“It was the only corner where I could get the chance to overtake him.

“I was bothered with myself but I think I came back to the car and I gave the maximum and took back what I almost lost mid-race. I’m really, really happy at the moment.”

Fuoco said that Cetilar’s race day included “a lot of up and down” moments.

The team had already recovered from a drive-through for speeding in the pit lane after five hours when Fuoco made the mistake from which he bounced back.

The No. 47 Ferrari rolled into victory lane battered and bruised, with a spare mismatched red-colored door attached after Sernagiotto lost a wing mirror early on, and yellow duct tape holding a damaged front-left corner together.

“In America it’s always like this,” Fuoco said. “You can have some ups and downs and today I think it was the day to get a lot of up and down.

“We went from the front to the back. We had a small crash and put some tape on the car just to continue and I think it was really good.

“The guys did a really good job; Roberto and Giorgio kept pushing to the end. We never gave up throughout the race.

“At the end I did my job. I kept the car and tried to push and we had really good pace.

“The car was really strong. I’m really happy to have won this race and would like to thank all the team because they did an amazing job with every single pit stop. We were always on the right time. This race is for all of us.”

Cetilar team owner Lacorte described Fuoco’s closing double stint as “unbelievable” after the former FIA World Endurance Championship squad chalked up its first IMSA win.

Lacorte, Sernagiotto, Fuoco and Andrea Belicchi tackled last year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona in a Dallara P217 Gibson while the core trio returned to the race this year with Alessio Rovera in GTD.

However contact early on prevented their Ferrari from challenging.

“[Fuoco] did everything with the car,” Lacorte told Sportscar365.

“He took the car and gave us the victory. It was incredible to follow Antonio with the pace and the solid rhythm in all conditions.

“I felt the car was different from the beginning to the finish; our engineers gave us a car for the second part of the race.

“In fact, in the first part, we struggled a lot. I did a mistake because I forced the car too much. But at the finish it was the right outcome.

“It means a lot because this is what we deserved after an unlucky Daytona. We did the right thing here at Sebring. It’s a matter of a lot of factors that worked out.

“We made a very important program with investment and the incredible commitment of AF Corse and Ferrari, and this is the result.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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