Toni Vilander will replace Sam Bird at the Nürburgring in AF Corse Ferrari #71.
The 36 year old Finnish racing driver is a works driver at Ferrari and has, for the last few seasons, raced in the IMSA championship in the USA for Risi Competizione. But he participated in the FIA WEC together with Gianmaria Bruni for that particular AF Corse team. In 2014 they became Champions in the GTE Pro category, and finished second a year later.
Tony Vilander also participated this year at Le Mans for Risi Competizione, where their race unfortunately ended early Saturday evening, after teammates had been smashed into the armco by an LMP2 car.
Vilander will join Davide Rigon, who is currently third in the GT drivers World Championship standings. It’s a big puzzle why Sam Bird has chosen to prioritize his Formula E programme, which has a date clash between the WEC race at the Nürburgring and Formula E in New York.
We have to see if Bird’s decision get any influence at his future by Ferrari, or if they fully understand the Brit’s choice of Formula E over WEC.
Both Formula E and FIA WEC have announced that they will avoid any date clashes in 2018, since the two series don’t want to fight each other. In 2017 we had, other than this upcoming Nürburgring race, also a date clash between the Prologue at Monza and the Formula E race in Mexico City.