AF Corse: Ferrari, il cavallino super-rampante
The two scarlet AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italias were a dominant force in the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship’s LMGTE Pro class, despite fierce competition. The No.51 of Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella scored the most points for Amato Ferrari’s all-conquering team, and is the focus of today’s season retrospective.
The Roman drivers won four of the eight races including the jewel in endurance racing’s crown – the 24 Hours of Le Mans – alongside Finn Toni Vilander, who also substituted admirably for Bruni at Bahrain. The result in France kicked off a run of four victories, achieved as the result of hard work by Michelotto, the team and its drivers, not forgetting superior fuel economy due to Ferrari’s fuel injection system.
Gianmaria Bruni acknowledges that, while the win at Interlagos was very satisfying because of the neck-and-neck battle with the Aston Martin, the 24 Hours of Le Mans was undoubtedly the highlight of the year. “Le Mans was a fantastic weekend, especially after the three very bad days before that because of the crash we had. The boys (mechanics) worked so hard to get the car completely re-built and prepared for the race and, from the moment it was back in the garage and ready for warm up, we had a good feeling. It was fantastic for everyone.”
Bruni and Fisichella finished off the podium only once this season and these results culminated in Ferrari securing the inaugural LMGTE Manufacturers' World Cup and AF Corse picking up the LMGTE Pro Teams' title. There was huge frustration at missing out on a class victory in Spa by just 0.6 seconds, and some frustrations following clutch issues at Sebring, but it was otherwise a perfect season.
Now in his third season of GT racing, Scuderia Ferrari driver Giancarlo Fisichella stresses how important the titles were to all concerned. “Winning is very important for Ferrari, that’s what we’re here for and the FIA WEC is a very important championship for them. They’ve invested a lot and done a fantastic job with Michelotto and AF Corse. Personally the only thing I wasn’t happy about was that a drivers’ championship title wasn’t possible in GT but that’s coming for next year which is good. I’ve really enjoyed the championship and the atmosphere, and we’ve been to some great tracks which I already knew so I’m happy about that!”
Both drivers hope for increased competition in terms of numbers in the LMGTE Pro category in 2013, and Bruni comments: “I hope that next year’s FIA World Cup for GTE drivers will encourage people to come because it would be great for the WEC, the teams, the sponsors, and the drivers. It would be more challenging for us but that makes the racing even better.”
Photo: SAKHIR (BAHRAIN), BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT, 6 HOURS OF BAHRAIN, SATURDAY, 29TH SEPTEMBER 2012. The No.51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia of Bruni and Fisichella won more races than any other in the LMGTE Pro class.