The 82nd 24 Hours of Le Mans is likely to be classed as an epic race, with multiple leaders, incidents and passes from the moment that Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso waved the French Tricoleur to when the chequered flag was shown at the finish.
Played out in mostly fine weather – apart from two short and sharp rain showers on Saturday afternoon, the results of which had a big effect on the outcome of certain competitors’ race – more than 263,000 spectators enjoyed this edition of the world’s most famous sports car race.
Reigning World GTE Champion driver Gianmaria Bruni, his team mates Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella were in a class of their own in the LMGTE Pro class, bringing the No.51 Ferrari 458 Italia home for their second class win in three years. The victory wasn’t achieved, however, without a huge battle for supremacy throughout the race, with the second-placed No.73 Corvette of Garcia-Magnussen-Taylor and the No.92 Porsche Team Manthey 911 RSR of Frédéric Makowiecki, Richard Lietz and Marco Holzer in third being among the contenders to push the Italian team hard. The victory extends Bruni and Vilander’s lead at the top of classification for the World Endurance Cup for GT Drivers.
The inter-class battles began right from the start of the race, and the Ferrari had to fight hard against the American muscle cars as well as Porsches at certain points and, primarily, the No.97 Aston Martin Vantage of Darren Turner, Stefan Mücke and Bruno Senna. The British and Italian marques fought relentlessly for the lead in class, and everyone was as disappointed as Aston Martin when a power steering hose leak caused the battle to be curtailed.
The Ferrari racing team has achieved another piece of Ferrari racing history this weekend at Le Mans 24 hours.
Antonello Coletta Antonello Coletta (Head of Ferrari Racing Activity) (Head of Ferrari Racing Activity) (Head of Ferrari Racing Activity):“This is an incredible victory, a great success for Ferrari. The team did a fantastic job to see us take the win again in the LMGTE Pro class. Once again, we were able to demonstrate the excellent performance of our cars in such a demanding race and it’s particularly significant as the cars are closely based on road cars. Congratulations to all the guys in the Italian AF Corse team who took us to this amazing result, which also brings valuable points in the FIA WEC championship. This event also saw a record set in terms of the number of Prancing Horse cars and drivers taking part.”
“I was delighted and very pleased,” was Giancarlo Fisichella’s first reaction after crossing the line. “Winning again at the Le Mans circuit, in the most prestigious endurance race in motor sport the 24 Hours, is amazing. All of this was made possible thanks to the incredible work of the guys at AF Corse. And of course, I also want to thank Ferrari for creating the basis of this win.”
Gimmi Bruni shared the great feeling saying:“This was a great day for me. Winning a Gimmi Bruni gain with Ferrari and seeing so many people under the podium is always a unique experience. It was a long drawn out race and right up to a few hours before the finish, the battle for victory was still on, with some decidedly strong opponents. I would like to thank my two team-mates Giancarlo and Toni and all the guys in the AF Corse team with whom together we took this win.”
Toni Vilander said: “I have to confess the pleasure of t Toni Vilander his great win has yet to sink in. It was a long race, hard fought from the start and so for the moment, I feel really tired. Our 458 Italia GT2 proved to be very quick and reliable. I want to thank Amato Ferrari and all the guys in his team for having given us what we needed to once again take the win in the most important GT race, the Le Mans 24 Hours.”
Amato Ferrari (AF Corse team owner) said: “It is immensely satisfying to have once again secured this important win with Ferrari and I want to thank Antonello Coletta, the head of Ferrari Racing Activity for their vital contribution. I am doubly pleased because we also got a great third place in the LMGTE Am category with the crew of Perez-Companc, Cioci and Venturi.”
eom/Ferrari press release with inputs from FIA