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Aston Martin Takes Mexico GTE-Pro Victory After AF Corse Penalty

Nicki Thiim, Marco Sørensen take their first win of season…

Photo: Aston Martin Racing

Aston Martin Racing swept to its second class victory of the FIA World Endurance Championship season in Sunday’s Six Hours of Mexico, as Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen fought off AF Corse rivals Sam Bird and Davide Rigon in a race-long battle for GTE-Pro honors.

Sharing driving duties in the No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE, Thiim and Sørensen found themselves embroiled in a fight with the No. 71 Ferrari 488 GTE that was only settled in the final hour, the Danish duo coming out on top.

Starting second in class, Sørensen passed Bird for the class lead towards the end of the first hour, only to slip back behind and allow the Briton to forge a healthy lead as the race passed half-distance.

A series of quick laps from the Dane towards the end of his stint saw the margin fall to just a couple of seconds, with the AMR pit wall bringing Sørensen in early in a bid to get the undercut on the rival Ferrari.

The call worked perfectly as Thiim swept into the class lead as Rigon emerged from the pits just behind, both cars having swapped hands with two hours to go.

Aston Martin made another perfect strategy call by pitting Thiim under a Full Course Yellow with 90 minutes to go, called after a baseball appeared on the circuit.

While Rigon now led, Thiim had made one stop more, putting him in control of the race.

AF Corse tried negating AMR’s advantage by bringing its Ferrari in under another caution, this time for debris, heading into the final hour, with Thiim also being fueled to go to the end of the race.

Rigon managed to retain track position and the lead of the class, only for race control to confirm that he would have to serve a 10-second time penalty at his next pit stop for speeding under the full course yellow.

Although Rigon was able to hold on and take the checkered flag first on-track for AF Corse, he dropped to second once the time penalty was applied, handing Aston Martin its second win of the season by 9.1 seconds.

Porsche completed the podium in GTE-Pro after a tight battle with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, with the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR eventually finishing almost a minute clear of the No. 67 Ford GT.

On a day that saw the AF Corse entries hold the upper-hand in terms of outright pace, the No. 51 Ferrari had a race to forget as James Calado dropped back early on after contact with Olivier Pla in the No. 66 Ford.

A gearbox issue later in the race further spoiled the second Ferrari’s race, leaving Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi sixth in class, trailing the No. 92 Porsche.

In GTE-Am, Dempsey Proton Racing stormed to its second class victory of the season with its Porsche 911 RSR, as Christian Ried, Marvin Dienst and Matteo Cairoli saw off a stern challenge from the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE, eventually finishing a lap clear.

A close early-race battle fizzled out at half-distance when Cairoli passed Paul Dalla Lana for the lead before turning the screw and streaming clear, enjoying a fuss-free run to the flag to give the trio the outright lead of the championship for the first time this year.

A lack of pace from Dalla Lana caused the AMR entry to fall back through the second half of the race and into the clutches of the No. 86 Gulf Racing Porsche 911 RSR, albeit not enough to lose P2.

RESULTS: 6H Mexico

Luke Smith is a British motorsport journalist who has served as NBC Sports’ lead Formula 1 writer since 2013, as well as working on its online sports car coverage.

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