James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi claimed their maiden FIA World Endurance Championship GTE-Pro title in style with a one-two finish for AF Corse in Sunday’s season finale in Bahrain.
Calado and Pier Guidi entered the final race of the season leading the GTE-Pro drivers’ championship by two points, with drivers from Porsche and Ford Chip Ganassi Racing standing a chance of beating them to the title on Saturday.
Teammates Sam Bird and Davide Rigon led the early part of the race in the No. 71 Ferrari 488 GTE ahead of title contenders Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx in the No. 67 Ford GT, only for AF Corse’s decision to triple-stint both its cars early on causing them to drop back through the field.
A rapid run in the third hour from Pier Guidi took the No. 51 Ferrari back into the top three, before a fortunate Full Course Yellow gained the car yet more time, taking the lead in the fourth hour when the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR spun out from P1 following a clash with a Toyota LMP1 car.
After seeing Priaulx drop back by half a minute in the No. 67 Ford before then losing more time with a slow pit stop, Pier Guidi was able to retain his lead right the way through to handing the car back to Calado for the final hour of the race.
The Englishman completed the final stint with no issues, but took the checkered flag in second place after AF Corse asked him to allow Bird past and complete a photo finish with the Ferraris in P1 and P2.
The result rounded out a hat-trick of championships for the AF Corse team in 2017 after Ferrari clinched the manufacturers’ crown in Shanghai.
Aston Martin Crowned Champions in GTE-Am
Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda clinched a long-awaited maiden drivers’ title in GTE-Am, finishing almost a lap clear of the field in the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE.
A poor start from Lauda flared tensions for the Aston Martin garage as he dropped to fourth early on, but was able to rise back through the field with relative ease, allowing Dalla Lana to regain the lead heading into the third hour.
The trio completed the job from there to secure both their own drivers’ crown and the teams’ title for Aston Martin Racing, with the rival Clearwater Racing team finishing second in class with the No. 61 Ferrari ahead of the No. 54 Spirit of Race entry.
RESULTS: 6H Bahrain