Le Mans 24 Hours. Victory for the Number 51 Ferrari – Montezemolo: “Extremely satisfying”
51 LMGTE Pro Ferrari 458 Italia 2878 G. BRUNI _ T. VILANDER _ G. FISICHELLA
Italy’s Gimmi Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella, along with the Finn Toni Vilander, driving for the Amato Ferrari-run AF Corse team, repeated their 2012 achievement, outclassing the opposition despite a few difficult moments.
This was Ferraris 24th class win, to go with nine outright victories. Having started from pole in the class, Bruni dominated the early hours, but then, in wet conditions when two downpours hit the Sarthe circuit, the car struggled and had to give best to Chevrolet and Porsche. The Ferrari men didn’t lose heart and once the track dried out, began an amazing climb up the order.
The Ferrari 458 beat off prestigious names such as Chevrolet, Aston Martin and Porsche, companies that are also rivals in the marketplace. The win owed a lot to the quality of the drivers but also to the exceptional reliability of the cars. The winning car had not the slightest problem. In second place, but almost two laps down, was the number 73 Chevrolet of Garcia-Magnussen-Taylor, with third, almost three laps down going to the Porsche of Holzer-Makowiecki-Lietz.
Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo was very pleased. “This is a very important victory in an amazing race,” he said. “This result is extremely satisfying and is a just reward for all the hard work from everyone in the team and my congratulations go to them. We dominated the race with a car that was able to outclass some very strong opponents and everyone at Ferrari can be very proud of that.” The Maranello marque and AF Corse also finished on the podium in the LMGTE Am class. In car 61, Italians Marco Cioci and Mirko Venturi and the Argentinian Luis Perez-Companc, finished third, behind the winning 95 Aston Martin of Danes Kristian Poulsen, Nicki Thiim and David Hansson and the 88 Porsche of Ried-Bachler-Al Qubaisi.
The overall win went to Audi, with victory going to the number 2 car of France’s Benoit Treluyer, Switzerland’s Marcel Fassler and Germany’s Andre Lotterer ahead of the number 1 car of Denmark’s Tom Kristensen, Brazil’s Lucas di Grassi and Spaniard and Scuderia Ferrari test driver Marc Gene.
Many thank to Sean Bramill and the V12 Group for a great kick off to the 2014 driving season. Many exceptional Ferrari’s made the morning trip to Legends many departing as early as 4am. Fantastic to see these cars properly used and covered with road grime. This is Sean Bramill’s V12 Grroup’s mission objective; these cars are to be driven fast and enjoyed.
Have returned from 4 days of touring Italy participating in the celebrations of Lamborghini’s 50th anniversary.
I was very fortunate to be invited by Piet Pulford to join him in his Bob Wallace Jota. What is ostensibly a Group B racing car the Jota made for a very visceral experience. Starting in Milan, over 350 Lamborghini’s left Milan for Forte dei Marmi, day 2 was on to Rome and the last day finishing in Bologna, all via beautiful Italian B roads.
Among the mainly modern Lambos the classics were well represented, Iselero’s, Espada’s, Urraco’s, GT350’s, GT400’s and Miura’s in original LP400, S and SV specification. Unfortunately a number of Miura’s broke down in the heavy traffic of Rome but were taken care of by the excellent support team provided by the Factory. The only incident was a collision that caused damage to a beautiful LP 400 Countach Periscopo, unfortunate but repairable. A fantastic 4 days of great driving in an extraordinary car in its natural environment.