Gianmaria Bruni led home a 1-2 finish in GTE-Pro for AF Corse in Sunday’s Six Hours of Nürburgring, at a race in which the Italian team initially looked to be struggling for pace.
Bruni and James Calado drove the No. 51 Ferrari 488 GTE to first in class, 29 seconds ahead of the sister No. 71 car of Sam Bird and Davide Rigon.
It marked AF Corse’s third victory in four races so far in this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship, and second 1-2 win but with the cars reversed from the result at the season-opener in Silverstone.
While Bruni becomes the driver with the most wins in WEC history, former GP2 ace Calado claimed his first series victory.
Nicki Thiim had led most of the race early on in his No. 95 Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE but could only make it through to finish third, sharing the car with Marco Sorensen.
Thiim passed Olivier Pla in the final 20 minutes as the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing driver was forced to serve a drive-through penalty for a pit-stop infringement in his No. 66 Ford GT.
Pla and Stefan Muecke finished fourth in class, ahead of the No. 97 Aston Martin of Darren Turner and Richie Stanaway.
Dempsey-Proton Racing took sixth in class after a rather quiet race for Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen in the No. 77 Porsche 911 RSR.
Perhaps the most shocking moment in the race was a refueling fire for the No. 67 Ford GT in the second hour. Andy Priaulx bailed out of the car quickly and was unharmed, but it took a while to extinguish the flames.
While missing out in GTE-Pro, Aston Martin claimed top class honors in GTE-Am with its No. 98 entry of Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda.
This was the car’s second win of the season after its Spa-Francorchamps victory in May.
Most of the class runners led at some point during the race, but Lauda took the lead just before the halfway point, when the Austrian overtook Larbre Competition’s Yutaka Yamagashi.
Wolf Henzler took the No. 78 KCMG Porsche to the line in second, after a strong performance from he and co-drivers Christian Ried and Joel Camathias.
While Francios Perrodo put his AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia into the gravel during the second hour, he rebounded to finish third in class after serving a 20-second pit stop penalty.
Larbre Competition finished fourth in class, on Paolo Ruberti’s sooner-than-expected comeback drive following his accident just days before the Le Mans Test Day.
Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing came home fifth, after multiple incidents, including an accident with the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Marc Lieb, who was penalized for contact.
RESULTS: Six Hours of Nürburgring