WEC – First podium of season for Rigon-Molina at 8 Hours of Bahrain
The 8 Hours of Bahrain, the fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship held on Saturday at Sakhir, concluded with a podium and a fair few regrets. In the LMGTE Pro class, neither Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina in the 488 GTE no. 71 of AF Corse, nor Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado’s no. 51, were happy with their respective second and fourth-place finishes. Once again, they deserved better. After a difficult and unfortunate race, the fourth place of the 488 GTE no. 83 of AF Corse in the LMGTE Am class sufficed to return Perrodo-Nielsen-Collard to the top of the drivers’ standings and the team from Piacenza to first place in the teams’ table.
LMGTE Pro. On a historically good track for Ferrari, the two 488 GTEs enjoyed a brilliant race throughout, thanks in part to a strategy which meant that their tyres were in better condition than those of their rivals. An extra pit stop due to a suspected slow puncture, which came on top of intermittent electronic problems, thwarted any chance of victory for car no. 51. Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado crossed the line in fourth, 25 seconds behind the winners, Thiim-Sørensen in the Aston Martin, and 3.6 seconds behind Martin-Lynn on the third step of the podium. Calado had pulled ahead of his rival in the duel for third position, but the Aston Martin had ‘accompanied’ him off the track during an attack, so the race direction made him relinquish the position. The decision that thirty minutes before the end of the race, forced car no. 71, driven at the time by Molina, to a stop&go while he was attacking the Aston Martin of Sørensen for the race lead, was even more severe. The race direction’s judgement focused on a slight skidding of the rear tyres after the Spaniard’s restart from the final pit-stop. Molina’s lead over his pursuers allowed him to finish the race in second but, even though he and his partner Davide Rigon celebrated their first podium of the season, the Italo-Spanish duo still had a lot of regrets.
LMGTE Am. The fourth-place won by François Perrodo, Nicklas Nielsen and Emmanuel Collard at the end of the 8 Hours of Bahrain, while not meeting the team’s expectations, allows the trio to return to the top of the drivers’ standings in the class and AF Corse to the top of the team rankings. The 488 GTE no. 83 had to make a long stop in the first few hours after the black-orange flag came out due to excessive temperature in the cockpit after an air conditioner malfunctioned. Once the problem was resolved, the winners of the Silverstone race pulled off a magnificent comeback, which they completed with a fourth-place finish ahead of the twin car no. 54 of Fisichella-Flohr-Castellacci. The latter crew had to deal with some spins and contacts in the race but was helped by a solid performance from the Rome-based driver. After a troubled start, the other two Ferraris of MR Racing and Red River Sport, finished seventh and eighth respectively. Ishikawa-Cozzolino-Beretta’s car, in particular, had the worst of it in some of the hectic phases of the race, losing precious time in the pits for repairs.
Next race. The FIA WEC will be back on track on 22 and 23 February for the 6 Hours of COTA, the fifth round of the series.