AF Corse has dominated the GTE-Pro class in the WEC Six Hours of Spa, with the No. 71 Ferrari 488 GTE of Sam Bird and Davide Rigon taking victory ahead of the No. 51 entry.
Both Chip Ganassi Racing Fords were initially able to mix it up with the Ferraris, as the starting positions remained unchanged for most of the first hour in a hard-fought battle.
However, it didn’t take long for both of the Italian entries to run 1-2, with the No. 51 and No. 71 of James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi swapping the lead.
Both cars spent more than two-thirds of the race driving in close formation, following team orders in an effort to optimize the pitstops and the end result.
A fuel-only final pitstop gave Bird a break over Calado, who eventually dropped the pace and coasted to P2, 47 seconds down, after taking two front tires in his final stop.
It marked Ferrari’s first class win of the season after a dominant effort by Ford in last month’s season-opener at Silverstone.
The No. 66 Ford GT of Stefan Muecke, Olivier Pla and Billy Johson tried to keep up with the pace of the Ferraris but eventually had to let the Prancing Horses run of into the distance at halfway.
The move of the race came 90 minutes into the race when the leading No. 66 Ford of Pla fell back into the claws of the Ferraris, which were on fresher tires at the time.
Pier Guidi and Bird passed the Ford in the space of two corners, but then had a minor collision with each other in the aftermath of the maneuver, giving Pla the opportunity to temporarily regain second position.
The Silverstone class-winning No. 67 Ford GT was the author of the comeback of the race, after initially losing more than one and a half minute with a fuel-priming problem, forcing Harry Tincknell to park and reset the car at Raidillon.
Pipo Derani and Andy Priaulx managed the bring the No. 67 Ford back up to fourth, steadily overtaking the No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE and both Porsche 911 RSRs in the remainder of the race.
While the Ford was still able to challenge Ferrari for the lead at the beginning of the race, the Porsche 911 RSR and Aston Martin were never in contention for the podium positions.
The No. 91 and No. 92 had an uneventful run and settled for fifth and sixth respectively, while both Aston Martins finished two laps down at the bottom of the standings.
AMR still managed to dominate the GTE-Am class with the No. 98 Vantage of Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda en Paul Dalla Lana, who were never threatened and only held up by a 10-second penalty for a grid infringement.
The No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR of Christian Ried, Matteo Cairoli and Marvin Dienst came home second, with Cairoli closing down the gap to just 31 seconds at the line.
Silverstone winners Matt Griffin, Keita Sawa and Weng Sun Mok completed the class podium in third in the Clearwater Racing Ferrari.
RESULTS: WEC Six Hours of Spa