After winning the Sebring 12 Hours, the opening round of the WEC, the AF Corse team is preparing for its next challenge at the Paul Armagnac circuit at Nogaro, France, with this weekend’s first round of the FIA GT1 World Championship, organised by the SRO. The Amato Ferrari-run team has entered two 458 GT3s, one for the FIA GT3 reigning champion, Francesco Castellacci, the only Italian, teamed with Belgium’s Enzo Ide, while the other is crewed by Filip Salaquarda from the Czech Republic and the Finn, Toni Vilander.In fact it was the Finn, an experienced hand at endurance racing, who took pole today with a best time of 1.26.138, just over a tenth faster than the two R8s of Team WRT, driven by Stephane Orteli and Frank Stippler, who were second and third. A way off the top three, seven tenths down on pole, is Marc Basseng, fourth in the All-Inkl Mercedes, with fifth place going to the other AF Corse Ferrari, driven by Enzo Ide. It looks like being a closely contested race given the level of teams and drivers taking part with no less than 18 cars representing 9 marques. The first race starts tomorrow at 14.15, with the second taking place a day later at the same time.Nogaro also hosts the first round of the European FIA GT3 series, which saw AF Corse take the Drivers’ title last year. This year they have two cars entered, one for Stefano Gai and Michael Lyons and the other driven by Gaetano Ardagna Perez-Giuseppe Cirò, who were champions in the 2011International GT Sprint 2. The first qualifying session decided the grid for Race 1 and fastest was third overall in1.28.149. Eighth fastest time (1.28.675) went to Gaetano Ardagna Perez in the other AF Corse 458. Tenth and eleventh for the two Ferraris of Russian Bear Motorsport, Michael Toril 1.30.070, and Vyacheslav Maleev, 1.31.657).
Third fastest in the second session was Stefano Gai reigning champion in the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli Italia(AF Corse (1.27.410.) He was followed by Giuseppe Ciro (AF Corse) in 1.27.425, with the Russian Bear Motorsport cars qualifying ninth and eleventh. There are two FIA GT3 races,the first on Sunday at 16.35 and the second at 9.45 on Monday.