For the second year in a row, AF Corse won the Endurance Cup of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS. In a thrilling 3-hour race at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the Ferrari squadra started the race outside of the points with title challengers ahead on the grid.
As the race progressed, everything came together. Crossing the finish line in seventh position, it was enough to secure the title for Alessandro Pier Guidi, Nicklas Nielsen and Côme Ledogar.
With the highly experienced and successful Pier Guidi heading the multinational driver line-up, the Italian became one of only three drivers – now also including co-pilot Ledogar – to win the Endurance Cup twice and the first to win back-to-back titles.
“It’s the first time [a driver wins the championship twice in a row] which makes me even more happy about it,” Alessandro Pier Guidi says.
Winning championships is nothing new for the 37-year-old, but as he repeatedly says, it never comes easy and neither did this victory.
“It was very difficult because winning is already difficult and then to repeat it is something amazing.
“I want to thank Ferrari for giving me the car twice to fight with for the title.
“This year the championship was different compared to last year. Last year, we didn’t have a good Spa 24 Hours, it was quite average, but we had a very good last race in Paul Ricard – normally a track where we are very quick. Coming here, we had scored a lot of points at Spa, but we knew it could be very difficult because normally at the Nürburgring and Barcelona we struggle with the car. We tried to minimise the loss and here we are again – I’m super happy!
“The key was Spa – scoring as much as we could in Spa, so many points compared to any other race. Winning Spa gives you an extra bonus, and many competitors lost a lot of points there, this was the key.”
Starting from eleventh on the grid, the #51 Iron Lynx Ferrari 488 GT3 was last of the title contenders and with Mercedes-AMG, Audi and Lamborghini all being proven winners at the Catalan racetrack they were in for the fight of their lives.
“Today was very difficult,” Pier Guidi continues.
“When you lack the pace, you have to defend from everyone and that was difficult. I was updated over the radio about the situation in the championship. I knew where I had to finish, but I didn’t know if I was able to stay there. Especially after the Safety Car, I had a lot of cars behind me that were quicker. I could take some risks to overtake someone, I was thinking in my mind to do it, but just if I needed to. Because taking that risk, even if you have a small, stupid contact without any damage, you can have a drive-through and it’s game-over.
“So, you have to put on the scale how much you have to risk, how much you have to be conservative, defend from behind, so it was very difficult – I was very happy to see the chequered flag at the end of the stint!
“It was tough, but in the end, I was focused on my job. I was thinking every time when I had the opportunity and the chance to overtake, I didn’t do it because I could stay in this position. If I have to do it in the last few laps, I’d do it, but I didn’t want to take a stupid risk for nothing.
“My engineer did a good job updating me and I was quite calm throughout the race, even if the stress was high, I was trying to be calm and focus on my job and driving as quick as I could without making any mistakes and losing any positions. This is what we did.”
It was not that long ago that the GT World Challenge Europe only got limited attention from Ferrari. A full-scale attack on the overall titles came just a few years ago which has now resulted in one of Ferrari’s most successful seasons in GT racing.
“For the last couple of years, they’ve put in much more effort because the going of the GT3 is quite obvious, so we have to be part of the game. All manufacturers are here, so Ferrari has to be here, fight all the others.
“But Ferrari is all about winning so the pressure is very high for us because you are Ferrari and everyone wants to win, so there is only one target, but it is difficult every time. Yes, we have now won twice in a row, but I know already from tomorrow on they start to push winning other things. It is difficult but it is always nice. When you have such a high target you just have to push and give it maximum attack.”
Despite the pressure of being a Ferrari pilot, the Piemontese wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
“Ah, no, I have been here for a long time, I’m feeling happy here. I see no reason to change. Every Italian driver wants to drive a Ferrari – I am doing it, and we are winning together. It is living the dream.
“I have always been with Ferrari, being part of the group. We have a good relationship, a very nice relationship. I know everyone in the team from the high-level boss to the last of the guys for a long time. We enjoy being together also away from the track. We have known each other since a long time and I even spend more time with them than with my girlfriend! That’s why we have such a strong relationship.
“I’m happy for myself and for them because everyone sees the drivers, the car, but the job behind it is so big and they put in such a big effort, so it is nice to give us something this championship.”
The never ending fight for glory continues already this upcoming weekend with the next round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge before the FIA World Endurance Championship season finale at Bahrain offers yet another opportunity for Ferrari and Pier Guidi to claim the crown.
“I’ll fly to Indy in a couple of days for the Intercontinental GT Challenge. We are leading because after Spa obviously we are leading. It will be another fight in Indy and Kyalami – that is another target for sure.
“And then we are racing in Bahrain for the WEC, which we are also leading. We will try our best, but the problem is that we know how hard it is.
“Sometimes you are winning a lot, and yes, I won a lot, but every time it’s a big fight. You see at Spa, you see here, even last year we won the title in the last stint with a gamble on the strategy.
“It is not easy and you need to be perfect every time.”
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