AF Corse take American Victory


AF Corse were made to fight for their victory, but Calado and Pier Guidi lead a fantastic one-three for the Italian team

A tough battle at the front of the LM GTE Pro class made James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi fight hard to take the class victory at the 6 Hours of COTA. The lead of the class was passed back and forth throughout the six hours before the #51 AF Corse came out on top by just over 5.5 seconds. The #98 Aston Martin Racing crew had an early delay that saw them slipping down the grid from class pole, but they managed to turn their race around to take their second victory of the 2017 World Endurance Championship season.

Nicki Thiim was the driver to watch in the #95 Aston Martin as he stole the lead from the Ferraris in the first lap. The Porsche GT Team had found some pace overnight as they got their elbows in with the Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK cars off the line and were instantly fighting for track position.

The sole mid-race safety car period brought the grid back together, and having lost the lead off the start, AF Corse were in a position to fight back. With a pace advantage, the #51 was able to pass the #92 for Pro class lead when the safety car came in and set about rebuilding a gap to get home first to the chequered flag. #71 looked to be pushing the Porsche for second place, but the team of Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre held their own and kept the pole sitters behind them.

A late race puncture saw the leading #51 car back in the pits. Pier Guidi was behind the wheel and brought the car out to retain the lead of the class, but only just. With everything to fight for, Pier Guidi pushed hard and showed that the Ferrari did have the edge around the Circuit of the Americas. He crossed the line with five seconds on the #92 Porsche, with the #71 AF Corse completing the podium.

After a slow start, the #98 Aston Martin Racing team fought back to take their second COTA win and their third win of the season

The #98 could not hold onto the lead of the class that they had fought to achieve in qualifying for very long as the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari made the pass early on. It was clear from the start of the race that in both Pro and Am the Ferraris would be the ones to watch as the Clearwater Racing car was soon putting pressure on the Aston as well. It soon became a battle of the Ferraris at the front of the class, with the #61 taking the lead with an inside move on the #54.

There was one safety car in the race that slowed down the grid around the halfway point. Michael Weingright was pitched off the track when an issue struck the #86 Gulf Racing Porsche. The hit was hard into the tyre barrier and the safety car brought the marshals some time to make sure the barrier was repaired and back up to racing standard.

With the grid now together as the safety car returned to the pits, the #98 team were pushing hard to recover their poor start and their trip to the garage for rear end repairs after contact with the #54. It was going well for them as they managed to get back to the front and start extending a lead. The Aston Martin team took their second COTA victory ad their third of the season. The podium was finished up by the two Ferraris, with #61 leading #54 across the line.