Double Podium for Ferrari 488 GTE at Silverstone World Endurance Championship
April 17 2017
Ferrari began the 2017 season of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with a victory in the GTE-Am class and a 2nd place in the GTE-Pro class at the 6 Hours of Silverstone. In the GTE-Pro class James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi spent the race on the attack and took 2nd place, and in GTE-Am, victory went to the 488 GTE of Clearwater Racing crewed by Weng Sun Mok, Keita Sawa and Matt Griffin who took advantage of an accident on the last lap involving the Aston Martin No. 98 and the other Ferrari, the 488 GTE of team Spirit of Race driven by Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci and Miguel Molina.
The 488 GTE No. 71 of AF Corse had an uphill start in GTE-Pro class. Sam Bird, in the driving seat, was hit by a Porsche and forced wide dropping several positions. James Calado did better in the 488 GTE No. 51, moving up rapidly from sixth to fourth and setting a respectable pace, although slower than the two Fords that in qualifying had already proved considerably faster down the straights. Car No. 51 pursued an aggressive strategy, while No. 71, partly because of the start, at the first stop kept the tyres and driver in place for a double stint. Calado and Pier Guidi made the most of the work of mechanics to settle quickly into third place, later moving up to second because of an early pit stop for the Ford no. 67. However, it was not a walk in the park for the drivers as car No. 51 always had to battle with Ford and Porsche cars. The car finished runner-up thanks to a flawless strategy in the second and more chaotic half of the race, which saw the team call it to the pits for a series of rapid refuellings. This enabled Calado and Pier Guidi to stay near the front and pursue a more flexible strategy in the final part. Car No. 71 had a less successful race. After the trouble at the start Bird and Davide Rigon launched a recovery that was hampered by not a perfect strategy during the fourth hour, compounded by a severe penalty of 15 seconds when Bird was adjudged responsible for a contact with the Oreca of Rebellion team driven by Mathias Beche. Class win went to the No. 67 Ford driven by Andy Priaulx, Henry Tinknell and Luis Felipe Derani, the overall race went to the Toyota of Mike Conway, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi.
In the GTE-Am class the WEC Clearwater Racing team’s adventure, in its first full season in the Championship after taking part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2016, could not have got off to a better start. The 488 GTE crewed by Singapore’s Mok Weng Sun, Japan’s Keita Sawa and Ireland’s Matt Griffin won the race on merit but also thanks to a bit of luck. Starting from the back of the grid, a perfect strategy and the skill of the drivers quickly lifted car No. 61 into a podium position. In the final part of the race Griffin closed in on the Aston Martin of Pedro Lamy, engaging in a duel with the Portuguese that saw the Ferrari prevail. When it seemed that nothing could stand in the way of a Clearwater victory, the 488 needed to refuel. At that point Lamy retook the lead pursued by the other 488 GTE, of Spirit of Race driven by Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci and Miguel Molina. The Spaniard, an official Maranello driver, closed the gap on the Aston Martin towards the end and attempted to overtake on the final lap. Lamy’s extreme defence caused the Aston Martin to collide with the Ferrari, which came off worst ending up off the track with damage to the suspension. This allowed Griffin to cross the finish line first.