2012 recap: A sweet Sebring result for No.71
AF Corse reigned supreme in the LMGTE Pro class of the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship, and it was the Roman duo of Gimmi Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella who scooped the majority of points for the Italian team. Ferrari had the advantage over their class rivals of having two F458 Italias entered in every round, and the drivers of the No.71 entry, Andrea Bertolini and Olivier Beretta, can be proud of their contribution towards Ferrari being the first recipient of the LMGTE Manufacturers’ World Cup.
It was, however, a topsy-turvy year for the Italian-Monegasque partnership. Beretta, who became a Ferrari factory driver at the beginning of the year after a highly successful ALMS career with Corvette, brought all of his considerable experience to bear at the opening round in Sebring. With former FIA GT champion and Scuderia Ferrari driver Andrea Bertolini and Marco Cioci, the trio secured the first win of the year for AF Corse after an incident-filled race to the finish.
The high at Sebring would not be repeated again during the season, with a podium place at the season’s last round in Shanghai being the next best result achieved. Spa-Francorchamps saw the veteran pair take the first of five fourth place finishes, including one at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The drivers attacked the race with spirit following a delay after an ‘off’ early in the race, but there was unfortunately not enough attrition ahead of them to achieve a coveted podium finish.
A podium was also on the cards at Silverstone but the place was ceded to Aston Martin on the final corner of the last lap – a bitter disappointment to Beretta and Bertolini which was offset by victory for Ferrari in both the LMGTE Pro and Am categories. It is hard to pinpoint why the No.71 was not able to challenge for victory in the same manner as the No.51, with both cars being identical, and AF Corse worked hard to get to the root of the problems. One thing is for sure: drivers with this level of experience know how to win and will surely do so again in international competition in 2013.
Photo: SEBRING INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY (SEBRING, FLORIDA, USA), 12 HOURS OF SEBRING, SATURDAY 17TH MARCH 2012. The No.71 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia of Andrea Bertolini, Olivier Beretta and Marco Cioci.