The factory AF Corse Ferrari team has split its lead driver pairing of Gianmaria Bruni and Giancarlo Fisichella to maximize its title chances at this weekend’s World Endurance Championship finale in Bahrain.
Bruni will share his regular No. 51 Ferrari 458 Italia with Toni Vilander, who moves over from the No. 71 GTE Pro class entry. His regular teammate, Kamui Kobayashi, will be joined by Fisichella for Saturday’s Bahrain 6 Hours.
Team boss Amato Ferrari said: “We have decided to do this to have two chances in the drivers’ championship. The drivers are professionals, so they understand my philosophy.”
The move follows a disappointing performance from former grand prix driver Fisichella in the last round of the series at Shanghai earlier this month.
Bruni and Fisichella lie 5.5 points off the lead in the World Endurance Cup for GT Drivers, which is effectively fought out by the GTE Pro teams. They have 120 points compared with the 125.5 of Aston Martin duo of Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke.
Manthey Porsche drivers Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz are on 110 points and retain an outside chance of the title. The Manthey Porsche duo will be driving an updated 991-shape 911 RSR, which will race in its homologated 2014 specification this weekend.
Sports car veteran Emmanuel Collard has joined the AF lineup for the Bahrain round together with his teammate in the European Le Mans Series, Francois Perrodo. They will drive alongside Matt Griffin in place of Marco Cioci and South African amateur Jack Gerber, whose deal never covered Bahrain. Perrodo has contested the Spa 24 Hours for the past two years in an AF Ferrari and is known to be evaluating a move into the WEC next year.