Championships falling the way of Ferrari!
After two succesful seasons full of victories the IMSA and ELMS championships came to a close with succeses for Ferrari. And with just one race to go in the WEC championship Ferrari already are manufacturers’ world champion. The drivers’ world championship now is the next goal to make it a perfect season for the Ferrari Competizioni GT department.
After a succesful season Ferrari came to Shanghai with just one goal: the manufacturers’ world championship. The points needed for the championship came at this race so all the people at Michelotto, AF Corse, Ferrari and the Competizioni GT department were able to celebrate Monday morning.
In the GTE-Pro class, the race was difficult for both cars. James Calado had to give way early on to the Ford #66 of Olivier Pla, extremely fast on the straight, while Davide Rigon dropped two places, also in troubles because of the 488 GTE’s limited top speed. The first half of the race was a sacrifice one for car #51, which started with old tyres so as to have fresh ones for the final stages. Just two tyres were changed at the first two pit stops and only 3 hours from the end the 488 GTE had the chance to lap with four new tyres. The tactics for car #71 were more gradual but broadly similar. In the second half of the race both 488 GTE cars began to climb the standings with the #51 rising to fourth and #71 to sixth. Near the end one of the two Fords suffered a tyre crisis, which let Pier Guidi take third while Rigon finished in sixth behind the Aston Martin of Marco Sorensen. Victory went to Henry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx in Ford #67 but the celebrations were in the AF Corse Ferrari garage.
It was a bitter race for the #61 and #54 Ferrari 488 GTE cars. After barely one hour driving they both got hit by the same prototype in turn 1. The prototype completely misjudged his move and went on to hit both Ferrari’s. The #54 unfortunately remained in the pits for the rest of the race. The #61 secured fourth place in class after a six laps long repair. The class victory went to the Aston Martin of Dalla Lana-Lamy-Lauda, while the Toyota of Nakajima-Buemi-Davidson was the overall winner.
While result of the 6 Hours of Shanghai closed the Constructors’ title the Drivers’ championship is still open and will be decided in Bahrain on 17 and 18 November. James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi hold a two-point advantage over Frederic Makowiecki and Richard Lietz of Porsche and 7.5 on Priaulx and Tincknell. The other Ferrari driver Davide Rigon is still in the running, 17.5 points behind.
In 2016 it was heartbreak for JMW Motorsport when they were denied the ELMS title by an accident in what was already a difficult race because of some technical issues. Twelve months later it was all smiles in the JMW Motorsport garage as Jody Fannin and Rob Smith took the title in Portimão finishing second with Will Stevens as third driver. The GTE class win became a fight between the #77 and the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari 488 GTE, with the championship leading #90 TF Sport Aston Martin trying to close the gap to the leading duo. In the end it was the #77 Proton Competition car that took the chequered flag for the first time in 2017 with the JMW Motorsport Ferrari in second to take the 2017 ELMS title for Jody Fanin and Rob Smith to add to the 24 Hours of Le Mans LMGTE Am title Rob Smith and Will Stevens won in June. The other two Ferrari’s unfortunately had to retire. The #51 suffered a suspension failure and the #55 had engine problems wich cost them a podium finish.
At the last race of the season Ferrari scored another succes in the IMSA championship. Scuderia Corsa went on to win the constructors’ championship. Balzan and Nielsen sealed the drivers’ title.