Fer­raris lead the way in GTE AM fight

Motor Sport News - - Report: Le Mans 24 Hours - Mitchell Adam Jack Cozens

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.

Ford en­joyed a suc­cess­ful re­turn to Le Mans, 50 years since its GT40 first won the fa­mous event

Scud­e­ria Corsa’s USA 488 starred

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