he 1000 Miles of Sebring, the sixth round of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) Super Season wraps up with Ferrari on the podium: the Spirit of Race 488 GTE no. 54, driven by Giancarlo Fisichella, Thomas Flohr and Franco Castellacci. The result reaffirms the great Prancing Horse tradition at the Florida track. The race was marked by several safety car interventions, the last of which put paid to Ferrari’s podium bid in the GTE-Pro class.
GTE-Pro. The Sebring track was expected to be an arduous one for the AF Corse cars, given that engine power – limited by the Balance of Performance – proved decisive, above all in the acceleration phases and along the long straights. The Ferraris, nevertheless, endeavored to keep a rein on the gap with adversaries so as to stage surprise attacks whilst employing a particularly conservative fuel and tire consumption strategy. The choice proved a correct one, so much so that the no. 51 driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Daniel Serra missed out on a podium place and no. 71 with Davide Rigon, Sam Bird and Miguel Molina at the wheel, came sixth. A downpour 25 minutes from the end and, more importantly, the safety car which entered nine minutes before the chequered flag due to an accident involving a prototype, prevented the Ferrari crews from achieving a better result. The Porsche no. 91 driven by Lietz-Bruni won the race.
GTE-Am. Meanwhile it was mission accomplished for Ferrari no. 54, the Spirit of Race team, yesterday a brilliant fourth in qualifying. In the restart after the second safety car, Fisichella performed a very effective stint that catapulted the team into second position, in full tussle with Bergmeister’s Porsche, which resulted in contact during an attempt to overtake. The manoeuvre was judged very harshly by race authorities who forced the no. 54 in for a stop & go. The decision did little to discourage the crew who, thanks to a very swift, consistent pace and an excellent job by the pit crew, were soon back in the battle for victory. A safety car, however, in the final stretches put an end to hopes of success, but did not dampen a well-deserved runner-up spot. The race proved to be a very solid, positive test for the second Ferrari that took part to the race. The 488 GTE no. 61, the Clearwater Racing team, did not start due to the accident which occurred in yesterday’s qualifying. MR Racing’s car, with Olivier Beretta, Motoaki Ishikawa and Eddie Cheever III behind the wheel, posted fifth place after a careful yet error-free race.
Next round. The FIA WEC moves on to the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps scheduled for 2nd to 4th May.
Track. Sebring, Florida: 6.019 m
Weather. Sunny, than cloudy with heavy rain at the end of the race.
Race results GTE-Pro class
1) 91 LIETZ / BRUNI – Porsche 911 RSR – Porsche GT Team| 8:01:10.119
2) 81 TOMCZYK / CATSBURG / SIMS – BMW M8 GTE – BMW Team MTEK | + 0.816
3) 67 PRIAULX / TINCKNELL / BOMARITO – Ford GT – Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK | 1 Lap
4) 51 PIER GUIDI / CALADO / SERRA – Ferrari 488 GTE EVO – AF Corse | 1 Lap
5) 92 CHRISTENSEN / ESTRE – Porsche 911 RSR – Porsche GT Team | 1 Lap
6) 71 RIGON / BIRD / MOLINA – Ferrari 488 GTE EVO – AF Corse | 1 Lap
Race results GTE-Am
1) 77 RIED / ANDLAUER / CAMPBELL – Porsche 911 RSR – Dempsey – Proton Racing | 8:00:56.374
2) 54 FLOHR / CASTELLACCI / FISICHELLA – Ferrari F488 GTE – Spirit of Race | + 12.538
3) 56 BERGMEISTER / LINDSEY / PERFETTI – Porsche 911 RSR – Team Project 1 | + 20.084
4) 86 WAINWRIGHT / BARKER / PREINING – Porsche 911 RSR – Gulf Racing | + 20.151
5) 70 ISHIKAWA / BERETTA / CHEEVER – Ferrari F488 GTE – MR Racing | 1 Lap
6) 6 YOLUC / ADAM / EASTWOOD – Aston Martin Vantage – 90 TF Sport | 1 Lap