AF Corse - a synonym for racing with Ferrari
AF Corse is a racing team which currently is a synonym for the Ferrari GT racing program all over the world, with numerous international championship titles on its account. Amato Ferrari founded the Piacenza-based team in 1995, named after his initials, and competed in the Italian Super Touring Championship. In the early 2000s, it ran Maserati cars and then switched to Ferrari cars in 2006. Since then, the team has won four FIA GT Championship titles, three FIA WEC titles and scored two GT class wins at 24 hours of Le Mans.
Amato Ferrari retired from racing and founded a team in 1995
Amato Ferrari, who isn’t related to the family of Enzo Ferrari and the Ferrari company, retired from the career of a racing driver at the end of the 1994 Italian Super Touring Championship season and concentrated on team management for the 1995 season.
Following the series’ demise in 1999, AF Corse turned to sports car racing, signing an agreement with Maserati to develop and organize the Maserati Trofeo Cup, a one-make series based on the Maserati Coupe. The competition lasted until 2006. In that period, AF Corse was tuning and rearranging more than thirty racing cars and transporting them to the race tracks all over the Europe.
AF Corse developed Maserati MC1 GT1
In the same period, the Modenese manufacturer entrusted some other tasks to Amato Ferrari’s team. The most important one was the development of the Maserati MC12, the car to be used in the 2004 FIA GT Championship.
The car debuted in the eighth round of the championship at Imola in September, with AF Corse taking two podiums spots. Mika Salo and Andrea Bertolini finished second in the #33 Maserati, Johnny Herbert and Fabrizio de Simone finished third. In the next round, at Oschersleben, the #33 Maserati MC12 scored maiden FIA GT victory. Salo and Bertolini added one more win at the season-ending race at Zhuhai International Circuit in Zhuhai.
2006 – maiden FIA GT title for AF Corse with Ferrari
In 2005, some other teams took over the Maserati MC12 in the FIA GT Championship, while AF Corse concentrated on the Italian GT Championship with Maserati Light Coupe. The return to the FIA GT Championship followed in 2006, but with another Italian manufacturer – Ferrari.
AF Corse was one of the teams which ran the new Ferrari 430 GT2 and the team won its maiden World Championship title in GT2 class. Team’s two cars (#58 and #59) scored three wins (Silverstone, 24h Spa and Dijon) in ten races, with Jaime Melo and Matteo Bobbi taking the drivers’ title, ahead of teammates Mika Salo and Rui Aguas. AF Corse continued to run Maserati for one more season, entering a few Maserati Gran Sport Light cars in the inaugural season of the FIA GT3 European Championship, but without any success.
One more victorious year with new drivers
In 2007, AF Corse defended both teams’ and drivers’ FIA GT2 titles with completely new driver’s line up. Two Motorola-sponsored cars (#50 and #51) dominated the season, taking nine wins in ten races. Toni Vilander and Dirk Muller won six times and became champions, ahead of teammates Gianmaria Bruni and Stephane Ortelli.
In June 2007, AF Corse participated for the first time at 24 hours of Le Mans, companioning with the British Aucott Racing. The all-British crew of Adrian Newey, Ben Aucott and Joe Macari finished 22nd overall and fourth in the GT2 class.
Third consecutive teams’ title in the season of 2008
For the 2008 FIA GT Championship season, AF Corse expanded its campaign to three cars, running the third car under the Advanced Engineering name. The Ferrari 430 GT2 was the most dominant car on the grid, with Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander scoring five wins in the #50 car. They became champions and the team won their third consecutive title. The other drivers were Thomas Biagi, Christian Montanari, Matias Russo, Luis Perez Companc, Jaime Melo and Mika Salo.
At the 2008 Le Mans race, AF Corse participated for the first time as a sole entry, with Vilander, Biagi and Montanari in the #78 car. They retired after 111 laps.
Fourth FIA GT title in a row for AF Corse in 2009
Fourth consecutive FIA GT title for the team followed in 2009. AF Corse won three races, including 24 hours of Spa. Toni Vilander and Gianmaria Bruni were the main drivers again, with Jaime Melo and Luis Perez Companc partnering them at Spa.
In the drivers’ classification, Vilander/Bruni lost the title by two points from Richard Westbrook. At the 2009 Le Mans, AF Corse’s #78 crew finished sixth in GT2 class. The drivers were Bruni, Perez Companc and Russo.
In 2010, after the FIA GT Championship was dissolved, AF Corse entered the Le Mans Series. The team fielded three cars in the GT2 class. Gianmaria Bruni and Jaime Melo won two races (Algarve and Silverstone) in the #96 car, but other three drivers (Jean Alesi, Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander) were better in the final classification, finishing second in the points. At the 2010 Le Mans 24h, Alesi, Fisichella and Vilander finished fourth in the GT2 class.
In 2011, AF Corse won all the competitions with the new Ferrari 458 Italia
For the season of 2011, the Ferrari 430 GT2 was replaced by Ferrari 458 Italia and it became the unforgettable year for AF Corse, as the team had won the titles in all competitions it competed in. The main competition was the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup with the GT2 version of the new car.
Giancarlo Fisichella and Gianmaria Bruni won five (of seven) races and secured the titles both for Ferrari and AF Corse. At Le Mans, they were joined by Toni Vilander and finished second in the GT2 class, scoring the first Le Mans podium for the Italian team.
Fisichella and Bruni were also the 2011 Le Mans Series champions. In the 2011 FIA GT3 European Championship, Francesco Castellacci and Federico Leo captured the title for the team. Gaetano Ardagna and Giuseppe Ciro added the victory in the 2011 International GT Sprint Series.
2012 – wins at Sebring and Le Mans plus FIA WEC title
In 2012, the season started with the class victory at 12 hours of Sebring, with Olivier Beretta, Andrea Bertolini and Marco Cioci in the #71 AF Corse car. A few months later, AF Corse scored class victory at another endurance classic – 24 hours of Le Mans. The winners at Circuit de la Sarthe were Giancarlo Fisichella, Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander in the #51 Ferrari 458 Italia GT2.
Both cars (#51 and #71) competed for the full season in the revived FIA World Endurance Championship, bringing the world’s title in the GTE Pro class to the team with five wins in eight races.
Other championship titles which AF Corse took in 2012 were at the International GT Open and Blancpain Endurance Series. Gianmaria Bruni and Federico Leo were GT Open champions. Niek Hommerson and Louis Machiels took the Pro-Am title in the Blancpain Endurance Series.
Two more FIA WEC titles and 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans win
In 2013, AF Corse took all three titles in the GTE Pro class of the World Endurance Championship. The team clinched manufacturers’ and teams’ titles while Gimmi Bruni was the sole winner of the drivers’ championship. At the 2013 Le Mans, AF Corse took two podium places in the GTE Am class.
The return to the top podium spot followed in 2014, when Bruni, Fisichella and Vilander wrote their second Le Mans win into the books. Bruni and Vilander took world championship title for GT drivers, while AF Corse and Ferrari defended teams’ and manufacturers’ titles.
Le Mans win in 2014 was the last AF Corse’s win at the world’s greatest endurance race. In 2015 and 2016, the team added three more podiums to its account. In the drivers’ classification, Bruni and Vilander finished second in 2015.
AF Corse is expanding towards GTE and GTC titles
In recent years, besides World Championship efforts, AF Corse expanded its activities all over the world and continued to collect wins and championship titles. In 2013, the first Asian Le Mans Series trophy came to Piacenza.
In 2014, AF Corse and SMP Racing joined their forces to take both GTE and GTC titles in the European Le Mans Series. At the same time, the trophies from the GT Open or Blancpain GT Series became something common and it’s hard to count them all.