The ending of Sunday’s WeatherTech Sports Car Championship race at Virginia International Raceway took a page from IMSA’s kissing cousins over at NASCAR. Contact during the race led to a post-race spat, with one angry driver seeking revenge on the cool-down lap.
The drama started when the No. 4 Corvette of Oliver Gavin got unsettled on a curb, sending the car careening out of control into the wall with just over six minutes left in the race. Gavin was fine and miraculously was able to limp the car back into the pits, but the No. 4 was leaking fluids. The team determined it was too broken to be repaired before the end of the race, so they retired.
The race went back to green with a minute and 35 seconds left, so you knew the now-bunched-up field was going to take more chances than usual to fight their way back up the field. In the case of the No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTE of Giancarlo Fisichella and the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR of Earl Bamber, Bamber blamed Fisichella’s lack of risk-taking for the a spin.
The restart officially went from zero to insane with one lap left, as several racers also reported slippery conditions from fluids dropped on the track. According to Bamber’s post-race remarks, Fisichella played it safe on the slippery stuff and braked earlier than he did—which Bamber claimed he didn’t expect.
The nose of Bamber’s 911 bumped the right rear corner of the 488 in Turn 1, spinning Fisichella around and preventing him from fighting for a podium finish. Bamber drove home to a third-place result for the No. 912 team. Fisichella was not pleased, and proceeded to harass Bamber all through the cool-down lap. The No. 62 had finished in seventh place—a far cry from the No. 912’s podium finish.
On the cool-down lap, Fisichella slammed into the side of the No. 912, gestured angrily out the window and then brake-checked the Porsche. Fisichella then slammed into the side of the 912 in pit lane himself once he was out of the car, per Racer. Fisichella also had some strong words for Bamber back in the pits, although none of that was shown on television.
“He comes up after the race, and said a lot of things I can’t repeat,” Bamber said in a broadcast interview after the race. Bamber also told the broadcast that it was unsafe to be trying to wreck another car when the marshals are out of their posts for the cool-down lap. (He’s right on that last part, you know.)
Fisichella and the rest of the No. 62 Risi Competizione team, however, maintain that Bamber punted the No. 62 of the way. Fisichella said in a team press release:
Once again we were for sure in the podium, like last race, and again somebody shoved us on the last lap. I think it was questionable call to do a green (flag) on the last lap. We were third and ten seconds ahead of Bamber at the safety car. It’s very unfair; it’s not good that kind of racing.
Stewards ultimately took no action in regards to the in-race incident between the two cars. Bamber’s teammate, Frederic Makowiecki, infamously spun a Corvette late in this year’s Long Beach race, so this isn’t the first time this year the No. 912 has been a part of some drama over a spin.
Due to the No. 4's mishap and last-in-class ninth-place finish, only 7 points separate the two GTLM class leaders now in the season championship. The second-place championship contender, the No. 67 Ford GT, picked up points with a respectable fourth-place result. It’s Corvette vs. Ford heading into the final two races of the season. Whatever happens, it looks like ‘Murica wins.
Did you catch the exchange between Bamber and Fisichella back in the pits? Let us know what else was said: firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Update 9:06 p.m.: Post has been updated above with information from Risi’s press release.]