WEC turning points: AF Corse show steel to continue podium streak in 6H Nürburgring
The No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari’s drive to second at the 6 Hours of Nürburgring didn’t make many headlines, but was a textbook case of salvaging a lost cause and would have a crucial role in determining the outcome of the LMGTE Am class.
The key to success in the FIA World Endurance Championship is consistency. Finding a way to score points when the going gets tough and not just when everything is working perfectly is the true mark of a champion, as demonstrated by the No.83 AF Corse Ferrari’s recovery to finish second at the Nürburgring.
Emmanuel Collard, Rui Aguas and François Perrodo weren’t the fastest on the day, didn’t have a clean run and had to rely on bad luck befalling others but, significantly, the trio kept their 100% record of podium finishes intact and piled the pressure on their championship rivals in the No. 98 Aston Martin.
Having won at Silverstone and notched up another maximum score as the top WEC-registered entrant at Le Mans – where the Aston shared by Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana failed to finish – Collard, Aguas and Perrodo arrived at the Nürburgring with a healthy 49-point advantage.
This meant that even if Lamy, Lauda and Dalla Lana were to win and take pole position at each of the remaining six rounds, the Ferrari could still take the title by finishing every race in second place.
They made hard work, however, of taking their second place at the Nürburgring. After starting fourth, Perrodo was running third and battling with Christian Ried’s KCMG Porsche when he misjudged the closing speed and found the gravel on the approach to the Veedol chicane.
Unlike at Le Mans, where the team had 15 hours to recover from a slight off at Arnage, they wouldn’t have the same luxury at the tight and twisty Nürburgring, a circuit where the F458 was unable to properly stretch its legs.
Though their cause was helped when Marc Lieb nudged Khaled Al Qubaisi’s No. 88 Abu Dhabi Proton Racing Porsche into the gravel with two hours to go, AF Corse couldn’t afford to rest on its laurels with the No. 98 Aston Martin away and clear up front.
All three drivers set about the task at hand with vigour, and lapped consistently to close on the No.50 Larbre Competition Corvette which was running in second. When it pitted just before a Full Course Yellow, the No. 83 crew took advantage and seized third place, which would later became second after KCMG failed a post-race scrutineering check.
Although unnoticed by many, the fightback minimised AF Corse’s points loss against the No. 98 Aston Martin and with Ferrari taking a second 1-2 finish of the season in GTE-Pro, gave the Prancing Horse a healthy bonus in the Manufacturers standings, which would be crucial by the end of the season.
AF Corse headed to Mexico with the psychological edge and, when the No. 98 Aston Martin failed to finish, the LMGTE Am class title was well and truly heading its way.