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AF Corse Wins GTE-Pro in Bahrain, Takes Title

Gianmaria Bruni, Toni Vilander claim victory, Bruni takes drivers’ title…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

AF Corse, Gianmaria Bruni and Ferrari claimed their second consecutive FIA World Endurance Championship titles after taking a dominant class win in Saturday’s season-ending Six Hours of Bahrain.

Bruni and co-driver Toni Vilander peddled the No. 51 Ferrari 458 Italia to a 43.532-second victory over the No. 91 Porsche AG Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR of Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Pilet in second.

“Without Toni, it would have not been possible,” said Bruni, who was rejoined by his former co-driver this weekend. “To win the race, we needed good pace, consistent pace at all times. I think we were not the quickest, but consistent.”

Their win came following a double retirement by Aston Martin Racing, which had led all three championships heading into this weekend.

The No. 97 entry of Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke retired with two hours and 15 minutes to go with engine issues, while its saving grace for the manufacturers’ cup, the No. 99 Vantage V8, which ran in second, dropped out in the final hour.

Aston’s issues promoted the No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari of Kamui Kobayashi and Giancarlo Fisichella to the final step of the podium in third, which was good enough to give Fisichella, separated from Bruni for today’s race, second place in the drivers’ championship.

Despite having entered Bahrain with a 17.5-point deficit, Ferrari took the GTE Manufacturers’ World Cup.

While GTE-Am class honors went to the No. 95 Aston Martin Racing entry of Nicki Thiim, Kristian Poulsen and Christoffer Nygaard, the drivers’ title went to teammates Jamie Campbell-Walter and Stuart Hall, having finished fifth in class on Saturday.

8Star Motorsports, meanwhile, claimed the teams’ championship with a second place finish for the No. 81 Ferrari of Enzo Potolicchio, Rui Aguas and Davide Rigon. It marked back-to-back WEC titles for an American squad, both coming with the Venezuelan owner/driver at the wheel.

However, Potolicchio and Aguas lost the drivers’ title by a single point. IMSA Performance Matmut’s Raymond Narac and Jean Karl Vernay were also in contention for the championship until suffering suspension failure with two hours to go, which knocked the No. 76 Porsche out of a third place finish.

Instead, the final step of the podium on Saturday went to the No. 61 AF Corse entry of Matt Griffin, Emmanuel Collard and Francois Perrodo.

RESULTS: Six Hours of Bahrain

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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