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9 May 2016

Sam and Ferrari on top in WEC GTE Pro

Sam Bird and his AF Corse team-mate Davide Rigon continued their perfect start to the World Endurance Championship by earning GTE Pro pole position and victory at Spa.

The WEC 6hrs of Spa was Sam's fifth pole position and third victory in his six races so far in 2016 as he combines his sports car duties with competing in Formula E for DS Virgin Racing.

But celebrations were muted for this win, as it was achieved at the expense of the sister AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE. Its driving team of Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado held the advantage all race, but were hit with a technical issue inside the last 10 minutes and forced to retire in the garage.

The result means that Bird and Rigon lead the GTE drivers' cup with the maximum possible 52 points. Bruni and Calado are third on 18, while AF Corse lead the GTE Pro team standings and Ferrari the GT manufacturers.

Sam said: "I'm happy to achieve another win with Davide and the entire #71 crew but I'm sorry that it came at the expense of our colleagues in the #51 car. They did not deserve for their race to end in this way but they will come back stronger and we will continue to work together as a team to try to get both cars to the finish in a good position at Le Mans.

"We are on maximum points in the championship and I would never have expected it. Of course this victory is different from Silverstone, and to finish first in this way isn't very nice. However, that's racing and we have to accept it. The big positive to take away from Spa is that it was another win for the Ferrari 488."

Rigon added: "I have to say I am sorry about the problem that struck car no. 51. I mainly feel sorry for James who would have claimed his first victory in the WEC. As for Sam and me I can say that it all went well for us. Today the car was even better than in qualifying and we kept up with the pace set by our teammates without much difficulty."

The next WEC meeting is the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 18-19 but, before then, Sam will be back on the hunt in Formula E as the electric racing series visits Berlin on May 21.