Ferraris lead the way in GTE AM fight
The #62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 of Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell and Jeff Segal cruised to a crushing GTE Am win, lapping all but one of its rivals on its way to victory.
Starting a lowly ninth of 13 cars, the #62 was hardly the pick of the bunch after qualifying or the opening two hours of the race – particularly as the four independent Porsches dominated the early stages of what became a spread-out race.
But a devastating set of stints from sportscar regular Bell in the middle of the night turned the race on its head, as the Ferraris came good into the morning and the Porsche challenge faded.
The order could hardly have looked more different early on, as the #78 KCMG and #88 Abu DhabiProton Porsches raced off into the distance, with the similar #89 and #86 911 RSRS forming another bank of two Porsches in third and fourth.
The #89 soon fell by the wayside though when Marc Miller went off in the Proton Competition entry on the run to the Dunlop chicane, before the number #78 and #86 cars dropped away from the lead group.
Without the surrounding Porsches for defence, Khaled Al Qubaisi was a sitting duck in the night and Bell hunted down, passed and raced clear of the #88 during his spell at the helm of the #62 to take the lead.
Team-mates Sweedler and Segal then turned successive fast stints to put the Ferrari a lap clear of its rivals by the three-quarter distance, and although all three backed off in their final shifts, Segal crossed the line with the best part of a minute in-hand over the second-place car.
The #83 AF Corse team was its closest challenger by the finish, recording a Ferrari 1-2, with Emmanuel Collard charging in his final stint to claim second from the #88.
Rob Bell’s pole-setting pace gave an indication of what the Ferrari was capable of, but he and his Clearwater Racing team-mates weren’t able to replicate that form in the race – with the on-loan Mclaren driver having to settle for fourth. Adam Carroll was part of the #86 Gulf Racing Porsche team that finished fifth.