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25 July 2016

Ferrari one-two at the 6 Hours of Nurburgring

Sam Bird and the AF Corse Ferrari team wiped out the disappointment of a difficult 24hrs of Le Mans by storming to the top of the GTE-Pro podium as the World Endurance Championship reached Germany.



A rain-hit qualifying session for the Six Hours of Nurburgring left Sam and Davide Rigon near the back of the field, but a battling race drive in their #71 Ferrari 488 GTE saw them grab second place, beaten only by the #51 car of team-mates James Calado and Gianmaria Bruni.

The result moves Bird and Rigon to just two points off the top of the GTE-Pro standings, with four of the nine races complete.

A chaotic and extremely difficult qualifying session saw teams forced to decide which tyres to risk on a track hit by intermittent rain. Both Ferraris were comfortably on the pace using the wet tyres but, as the 20-minute session neared its end, some teams took a chance on the faster slick tyres - among them Bruni in the #51 car.

The Italian driver went off track immediately after leaving the pits, but was able to recover. However, this episode led the crew of car #71 to stay with the wet weather tyres for Sam's laps. The decision proved to be too conservative as Bruni was fastest overall, his optimal tyre choice putting him almost nine seconds further up the timesheets than Sam.

Race day saw no such issues, with fast driving and effective team strategy combining to secure a one-two finish. Bruni and Calado used an undercut at their changeover to break through to second place, then seized the winning lead with a masterpiece overtake of the #95 Aston Martin.

Meanwhile, Rigon and Bird fought through the GTE-Am cars and began picking off their GTE-Pro rivals to reach third place. Their great comeback was completed at the start of the last hour, when one of many full course yellow periods allowed the #71 to leapfrog the Aston Martin, which had stopped under a green flag.

The WEC season now leaves Europe, crossing the Atlantic to visit Mexico on September 3 and the United States a fortnight later.