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AF Corse Takes GTE-Pro Win at Spa

Davide Rigon, Sam Bird claim back-to-back GTE-Pro wins…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

AF Corse scored its second straight FIA World Endurance Championship GTE-Pro class victory, but lost out on a sure-fire 1-2 finish following late-race drama in Saturday’s WEC Six Hours of Spa.

A mechanical issue for the No. 51 Ferrari 488 GTE of James Calado sent the class-leading entry into the garage and out of the race, handing top honors to the sister No. 71 entry of Davide Rigon and Sam Bird.

It marked their second consecutive class victory after also earning the pole and class win in Silverstone last month.

In comparison with the prototype classes, the GTE-Pro battle was relatively quiet, except for two heavy crashes through the course of the race.

The first came near the halfway point, when Nicki Thiim was tapped into the tire barrier by Simon Dolan’s G-Drive Racing LMP2 Gibson 015S Nissan.

The No. 95 Aston Martin V8 Vantage flipped over after it made contact with the barrier and was forced to retire with heavy damage.

Just prior to the final hour, Stefan Muecke spun out at Eau Rouge and smashed into the barrier, destroying his No. 66 Ford GT. This brought a nearly 30-minute long safety car period for cleanup.

Both drivers escaped serious injuries in the accidents.

The No. 67 Ford of Mario Franchitti, Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell came home one lap behind in second, giving Ford its best-ever WEC finish, with the No. 97 Aston Martin of Jonny Adam, Richie Stanaway and Fernando Rees completing the podium in third.

The GTE-Am battle was between the No. 98 Aston Martin and No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GTE for most of the race, but it was Pedro Lamy and the AMR team that took the class honors, ahead of the AF Corse car.

Lamy started from pole but was overtaken by Rui Aguas at the start. A collision at Les Combes between Aguas and a Ford put the No. 98 car back into the lead.

However, AF Corse survived a couple of penalties and moved back into the lead, only to once again lose it to Lamy with 33 minutes to go.

Lamy shared class honors with Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda.

The No. 50 Larbre Competition Corvette C7.R, driven at the end by Pierre Ragues, completed the podium in third.

RESULTS: WEC Six Hours of Spa

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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