The #83 Ferrari 488 GTE courtesy of AF Corse claimed second place in the LMGTE Am class in the 6 Hours of Fuji, second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The crew made up of François Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Nicklas Nielsen, after the success in the opening round at Silverstone, consolidate their championship leadership. In LMGTE Pro, AF Corse’s Ferrari crews leave the Japanese track having missed out on a podium after watching their race strategy thwarted by a Full Course Yellow, stripping the Ferrari cars of any chance of a battle for victory.
LMGTE Pro. After a brilliant start to the race with Alessandro Pier Guidi managing to take the lead, the two AF Corse 488 GTEs, with the sets of used tyres utilised at the start playing a role, dropped from the top three, but kept the gap from the leading car down to less then ten seconds. Alessandro Pier Guidi performed a triple stint, while Miguel Molina, after a double stint, handed the wheel over to Davide Rigon. After the stop, the two Ferrari crews found themselves 21” adrift of the leader with the rain beginning to make its presence felt on some sections of the track. During this phase, approaching the third hour, with rainfall increasingly covering more of the track but not increasing in intensity, Davide Rigon proved fastest on track and after passing Pier Guidi, climbed the order to second place, immediately followed by his team-mate.
Taking advantage of the new tyres which had been saved from qualifying and the early stages of the race, the two 488 GTEs went on the attack. Shortly after the top of the third hour, the Ferraris come in for their pitstops with, on this occasion, James Calado swapping for Pier Guidi. A few seconds after having retaken the track, race stewards signalled a Full Course Yellow to clean up debris which had been shed on the asphalt. The adversaries capitalised on the 80 km/h speed limit to pit and increase their advantage to over 50”, a gap difficult to close for the 488 GTE crews, effectively putting paid to any Ferrari victory hopes.
From then on, the #51 and #71 cars went on a chase which however failed to take the Calado-Pier Guidi crew beyond fourth place and eventually saw a fifth position for Rigon-Molina, forced to make two unexpected stops due to two right rear punctures. The win was claimed by Sørensen-Thiim in the Aston Martin. With this result, Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado come away from Japan holding fifth position in the standings, some eleven points from the top, while Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina win their first points in the championship.
LMGTE Am. In the LMGTE Am class, Perrodo, Collard and Nielsen kept the momentum rolling after their victory at Silverstone, taking a splendid second place. At the wheel of the #83 AF Corse 488 GTE the trio were never out of the top three, with significant yet steady times in spite of the success ballast. Fourth final place went to the MR Racing car with Motoaki Ishikawa, Olivier Beretta and Kei Cozzolino. The Italian-Japanese driver, in particular, waged some spectacular battles during his triple stint to the thrill of the spectators in the stands, such as the one involving Giancarlo Fisichella.
The driver from Rome, flanked by Thomas Flohr and Francesco Castellacci, delivered the second AF Corse car to sixth position, while the Red River Sport crew of Bonamy Grimes, Johnny Mowlem and Charles Hollings took tenth place. The race was won by Yoluc-Eastwood-Adam in the Aston Martin. The championship standings are dominated by François Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Nicklas Nielsen on 43 points, while defending third place on 27 points are Motoaki Ishikawa, Olivier Beretta and Kei Cozzolino.
Next race. The third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship will also be held in Asia, this time in China, where the weekend of 10th November the 4 Hours of Shanghai is set to take place.