14 aprile 2016
Silverstone, 14 April – The 2016 World Endurance Championship opens on Sunday with the 6 Hours of Silverstone. This year sees an extra ninth event on the calendar, with Mexico the new venue. As always, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in mid-June is the most anticipated meeting, the third on the programme after the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. This season welcomes lots of innovations. The biggest for Ferrari is of course the debut of the brand new 488 GTE, which marks the return of the Ferrari turbo engine to endurance races for the first time since the F40. As usual Porsche and Aston Martin will be among the rivals, but this year also sees the return of Ford.
GTE-Pro. AF Corse will field the new car in the GTE-Pro class. Italy's Gianmaria "Gimmi" Bruni will again race the iconic no. 51 but without crewmate Toni Vilander, who will drive with Giancarlo Fisichella for Risi Competizione in the IMSA championship. James Calado will be his new partner. Silverstone is one of the British driver's favourite tracks (Video). Last year James showed his speed and tactical intelligence, to earn him a place alongside Bruni.
No. 71. Davide Rigon will be in the other 488 GTE, this season teaming up with world champion Sam Bird. The British driver, famous for his victories in GP2, in 2015 proved he also knows how to compete in endurance competitions.
Sam arrives at Ferrari as world champion in the LMP2 class and can now dream of glory with the Prancing Horse. He previously competed in a couple of WEC races with Ferrari in 2014, picking up a podium at Silverstone.
GTE-Am. Ferrari will defend the GTE-Am class world title won in 2015 by the 458 Italia of SMP Racing, with a very similar car entered by AF Corse and once again crewed by François Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Rui Aguas. The trio, who won one race last season, is among the title contenders, although Porsche, Aston Martin and Chevrolet are fielding some equally aggressive drivers.
Programme. The 6 Hours of Silverstone takes place on Sunday at 12 pm local time (1 pm CET), but track activities begin on Friday with the two 90-minute free practice sessions at 12.15 pm and 4.30 pm. The last practice session before qualifying takes place on Saturday at 9 am. GT qualifying begins at 11.50 am.
History. The Ferrari no. 51 of Bruni and Vilander won last year while Maranello has notched up over 70 victories at Silverstone in nearly 70 years of history. Arwyn Williams and Aaron Scott were the most recent in the British GT Cup 2015. However, the first dates back to 1950 with Alberto Ascari in a 166 MM. This success came a year before Maranello's first historic triumph in Formula 1, when José Froilan Gonzalez won in the 375 F1 on 14 July 1951.