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20 November 2017

Sam rounds off season with victory

Sam ended the World Endurance Championship season with a flourish as he and team-mate Davide Rigon won the Six Hours of Bahrain GTE Pro class from pole position.

Sam Bird at Bahrain

It was a second class victory and fourth class pole of the season for the Anglo-Italian pair after Spa-Francorchamps, Mexico City and the Circuit of the Americas also saw the #71 Ferrari 488 GTE start from the front, winning at Spa.

Their successful weekend added to the celebrations at AF Corse as James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi in the #51 car earned the drivers' title to add to the manufacturer crown that the team secured for Ferrari in Shanghai.

"This means the world to Ferrari and AF Corse," said Sam, whose double victory at Formula E's debut New York weekend cost him a shot at the WEC drivers' title as he missed the Six Hours of Nurburgring to take part.

Sam drove the opening stint in Bahrain, building a lead that lasted until the car's second stop when a full course yellow, called as Davide exited the pits, allowed most of the field to steal an advantage over the #71 car.

But the pair fought back in the later stages of the race, with Sam driving the final stint, and the team chose to recognise their efforts by staging a grandstand finish in which Sam took the chequered flag first and Calado in the #51 car won the drivers' title from second.

Afterwards, Ferrari said: "The drivers of the Ferrari 488 GTEs finished in parade, with car #71, starting from pole and key to the season's triumphs, first over the line.

"Sam Bird in car #71 was faster towards the end so it was decided that #51 would stage a spectacular parade finish with Bird and Rigon who fully deserved the victory."

In the post-race press conference Sam said: "The race started pretty well. I got a good start which I knew would be vital to stay in front of the Aston Martins - to get to the first corner first would be really important.

"We built a good buffer to the Ford, however in the middle of the race Davide had just come out of the pits when a full course yellow came out and everybody else pitted under that.

"We went from a 25 second lead to a 30 second deficit within one lap and I thought the race was over, but we clawed it back and at the end we were all happy."