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Calado: FCY Periods “Saved” Ferrari from Costly Fuel Stop

FCY periods enabled No. 51 Ferrari to reach the end without costly fuel splash, says Calado…

Photo: MPS Agency

James Calado said that Full Course Yellows in the final stint “saved” his fuel-preserving Ferrari and contributed to its GTE-Pro class win at the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa.

Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi earned the first victory of their world title defense in the second round of the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship season, after holding off the No. 92 Porsche GT Team pairing of Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre.

Calado defended from Christensen in the closing stages after the Dane found a way past Antonio Fuoco in the No. 52 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo coming out of La Source.

The No. 51 Ferrari that went on to win the incident-filled race made its final pit visit with one hour and 26 minutes remaining, during a Full Course Yellow period.

At that point, each of the top three in class adopted slick tires, but the No. 92 Porsche and the No. 52 Ferrari would later come in again for fuel top-ups with an hour to go.

With green flag GTE stints typically lasting an hour, the No. 51 Ferrari was banking on slow periods such as FCYs to make the end without needing a costly additional stop.

“If there hadn’t have been any Full Course Yellows, we would have had to splash,” Calado told Sportscar365.

“But we gambled hoping there was going to be another Full Course Yellow. That was the only way to win the race, because the Porsche was quicker.

“But at the same time, I drove my heart out to try and keep it behind.

“I managed to, just, but there was a lot of pressure. It was difficult conditions because it was still a wet line on parts of the track. At times it was over the limit, but it was a nice fight.”

Calado explained that Ferrari gave him clearance on his fuel load after the second of three FCYs in the final 90 minutes of the race, which ended with 45 minutes to go.

“I didn’t see my fuel light,” he said when asked about how close he came on fuel.

“There were three Full Course Yellows in total at the end, and that saved us. I think even after the second one, they said I was fine to push.”

The Englishman’s attention then turned to defending from Christensen and managing his slick Michelin tires.

“We used a tire compound that we hadn’t used all weekend,” he explained.

“We started to lose a lot of grip at the end and it was tough. I lost the car in Eau Rouge, big time, and just saved it.

“When Ale gave me the car it was still pretty much wet. So we gambled on a softer compound which we didn’t think would work in normal conditions, but it worked out really nice.

“Then I started to get a huge drop and started to get worried.

“But frankly speaking, I think the Porsche did the same. Because we had the same sort of warm-up and the same sort of drop, even though they were quicker.”

Christensen said that despite having a quicker car in the closing stages, finding a place to pass the Ferrari was difficult due to a lack of grippy options beyond the racing line.

“If there is one line, you have to go on the wet to overtake,” he told Sportscar365.

“For sure it was not just one line in the end, but it was hard to follow. Just to be able to be close enough to out-brake when there was one and a half lines, it was really difficult.

“I just had to keep pushing and hope for more mistakes, but it didn’t happen.

“It was good fun, no doubt. But I would prefer to win. I definitely believe that I had the pace, but that’s one thing and another thing is to pass. I just didn’t manage to do it.”

On the other hand, Calado knew that he could not deviate far from the racing line to defend from Christensen.

The Porsche driver mounted a last-ditch challenge into the Bus Stop chicane on the final lap but washed out wide at the right-hander and ran too deep to get underneath the Ferrari when the track switched back to the left.

They had been even closer at times earlier in the battle, with Porsche and Ferrari going head to head as they did at various stages of their championship duel last season.

“Half the track was wet and half was dry, and I over-drove on the dry bits just to get some tire temperature,” Calado said.

“I did everything I could, but Christensen was on it. I knew he’d go for a gap if there was one.

“I defended well and it was close at the end: he gave me a little nudge, but it was nice.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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