While the LMP classes were pretty set throughout the race the LMGTE categories had the large and enthusiastic Brazilian crowd, together with the many fans watching worldwide through the live streaming on the FIA WEC website, on the edge of their seats from start to finish. There was extremely close racing, heartache, fires and accidents for many within the field and, at the chequered flag, it was the 2012 LMGTE champions AF Corse Ferrari who took their second victory of the season in the factory-led class.
The basic facts only tell part of the story, however, as the No.51 458 Italia of Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella was involved in a nose-to-tail battle for the 6 Hours of São Paulo with the No.97 Aston Martin Vantage of Darren Turner and Stefan Mücke. Just 1.4 seconds separated the two cars at the end of 6 hours of hard racing and the result for both partly compensated for the misfortune of their different Pro team mates. The No.71 AF Corse Ferrari was involved in a spectacular conflagration which destroyed the rear end of the 458 Italia – driver Toni Vilander was lucky to escape unharmed in any way – and the No.99 of local hero Bruno Senna and Rob Bell was caught up in another car’s spin across the track which subsequently damaged its rear suspension beyond repair.
Third in class was the No.91 Porsche AG Team Manthey 911 RSR of Patrick Pilet and Jorg Bergmeister who had a less eventful race than their No.92 team mates, Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz, who lost a rear wheel after only ten minutes. Their fourth place finish, however, means that they are now in second place in the World Endurance Cup for GT drivers with 84 points, just two points behind new leaders Darren Turner and Stefan Mücke. Fisichella and Bruni’s victory means they are just one point further back in third place.
In LMGTE Am, Aston Martin Racing was able to claim a much deserved class victory, the No.96 Vantage V8 of Jamie Campbell-Walter and Stuart Hall crossing the finish line one lap ahead of the No.81 8Star Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia of Enzo Potolicchio, Rui Aguas and Davide Rigon, the young Italian making an assured debut in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Porsche was the third manufacturer to mount the podium in the category, the No.88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Christian Ried, Gianluca Roda and Paulo Ruberti taking third place.
There was heartache for the No.95 Danish-entered Aston Martin Vantage V8 of Nicki Thiim, Kristian Poulsen and Christoffer Nygaard who led the class right up until fifth hour before losing a wheel and being stranded out on track.
The LMGTE Am results mean that in the battle for the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMGTE Am teams, IMSA Performance Matmut, who finished fourth in class today, have had their lead reduced. They now have 76 points with both 8Star Motorsport and Aston Martin Racing on 74 points.