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Le Mans 24 Hours of Le Mans

Ferrari's WEC title hopes "back on track" after Le Mans win

Ferrari secured back-to-back Le Mans 24 Hour victories to put energy into its World Endurance Championship title bid

Ferrari believes it is back in the hunt for the 2024 World Endurance Championship after claiming its first win of the season at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Ferrari had clinched just a single podium in the lead-up to last weekend's fourth round of the season, with Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen having finished third at Spa in the #50 499P.

This had left the #50 crew a distant fifth in the drivers' standings, 34 points off the championship-leading Porsche trio of Laurens Vanthoor, Kevin Estre and Andre Lotterer, while Ferrari itself trailed both Porsche and Toyota in the manufacturers' table.

However, the Italian marque managed to strike back in the most prestigious round of the year, with Fuoco, Molina and Nielsen claiming an impressive win from fourth on the grid and Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi joining them on the podium in third in the #51 car.

The result has elevated the #50 trio to second in the drivers' championship and just nine points off the #6 crew, with Ferrari now trailing Porsche by the same margin in the manufacturers' battle.

Antonello Coletta, Ferrari's sportscar racing chief, described the victory in the double-points WEC round in France as a turning point for its championship challenge.

"Honestly, we lost a lot of points in Imola and Spa because today we could come here [after Le Mans] with three victories on our table. Unfortunately [we have] just one, but probably the most important one," he said.

#50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, Nicklas Nielsen

#50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, Nicklas Nielsen

Photo by: Emanuele Clivati | AG Photo

"It's normal that we are at the turnaround [point] of the championship and we have a chance to make all our best efforts to win the championship. At the end, the world championship is a maximum result - the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the World Championship. 

"We won a lot of world championships with the GT class and why not with the prototype."

The WEC heads to Sao Paulo and then Austin in the coming months as part of the American leg of the championship, with both venues returning to the calendar after long absences. Six and eight-hour fixtures in Fuji and Bahrain will bring the season to a close.

Ferrari's technical director for sportscar racing Ferdinando Cannizzo was equally upbeat about the Prancing Horse's prospects for the title, but is uncertain just how competitive the 499P will be in the second half of the campaign.

"For sure we recovered a bit and we are probably back on track to win the championship," he said.

"About the next races [it] will be difficult. It will be difficult because we need to digest the victory quickly, we need to focus on Brazil. Brazil is very close so we need to rest, keep the focus on the new races [which are] completely different. Interlagos is a difficult track. 

"What I can answer is we need to [repeat] the job that we did for Le Mans or for Spa or for Imola.

Podium: Race winner #50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, Nicklas Nielsen

Podium: Race winner #50 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P: Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, Nicklas Nielsen

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

"There is work on the simulation and to understand how we exploit it for the race. I don't know at the moment if we will be competitive or not but of course, we will work very hard in all the last races of the season so we can say hello to the championship. 

"Our target is always to close the season with the title and we will work hard to bring it home."

Ferrari threw away a near-certain victory at Imola due to two strategic errors in rainy conditions, while another potential win was lost at Spa when the red flag left its cars in an unfavourable position for the restart. It protested against the results of the Belgian round in the immediate aftermath of the race, but it was rejected by the stewards. It has since appealed the decision.

Speaking after its win at Le Mans, Ferrari revealed the extent it went to to ensure it doesn't face a similar breakdown in communication during crucial pitstop calls. 

The Italian manufacturer split the strategy when rain arrived for the first time in the third hour at La Sarthe, and the #50 factory entry and the #83 satellite car emerged with a major lead by staying out on a rapidly drying track.

"I organised a lot of meetings after Imola, with the mechanics, with the engineering, with the drivers," revealed Coletta. "I spoke with all of them because I would understand exactly the problem that we had and why we had the misunderstanding. 

"And now I believe that we demonstrate we work very very well. I think that all the choices we took in the race have been correct. 

"No misunderstanding, no error with the call of the car on the box. And probably the race of Imola has been a big help for this 24-hour.

"But I'm very, very happy about the answer of the team after the problem on the Italian GP (sic) because frankly for me it has been a disaster to lose in front of our [home] fans." 

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