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No. 51 Ferrari Wins Pro; AF Corse Claims Both GTE Classes

Calado, Pier Guidi, Ledogar win GTE-Pro class at Le Mans as Ferrari takes double victory…

Photo: WEC

James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Come Ledogar won the GTE-Pro class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans as Ferrari entries claimed victory in both of the GTE categories.

The drivers of the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo dominated the second half of an attrition-filled Pro race that saw half of the eight-car field encounter significant time delays due to issues.

Pier Guidi took the checkered flag 41.6 seconds clear of Antonio Garcia in the No. 63 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R that was co-driven by Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg.

Those were the only two cars to finish on the lead lap, as the factory Porsche 911 RSR-19s came through in third and fourth without being able to challenge the leaders.

Kevin Estre, Neel Jani and Michael Christensen completed the podium in the No. 92 Porsche, which underwent a chassis replacement for the race after Estre crashed during Hyperpole. The Frenchman crossed the line one lap adrift of Garcia.

Gianmaria Bruni, Richard Lietz and Frederic Makowiecki ended up three and a half minutes behind their teammates after their bruised No. 91 Porsche underwent a five-minute final-hour repair stop, due to the rear bodywork coming undone.

Despite Makowiecki’s time-consuming pit visit, the No. 91 crew still held a comfortable 11-lap buffer in hand to the fifth-placed No. 52 Ferrari of Daniel Serra, Miguel Molina and Sam Bird, which suffered multiple delays.

The No. 64 Corvette C8.R rounded out the six finishers after multiple delays spawned by contact with the class-winning Ferrari on the formation lap, which necessitated a diffuser change.

Tommy Milner, Nick Tandy and Alexander Sims were also held up by gearbox, clutch and alternator repairs and finished 32 laps off the winner as a result.

The two privateer Porsches from WeatherTech Racing and surprise pole-sitter HubAuto Racing retired from the race.

WeatherTech’s Proton Competition-run car was eliminated after ten and a half hours when Cooper MacNeil crashed on the entry to the Ford Chicane.

HubAuto retired shortly after a stoppage for Dries Vanthoor at Dunlop at around 9 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Maxime Martin started the HubAuto car from pole but rotated on a chaotic opening green flag lap after two laps behind the safety car due to wet weather conditions.

Corvette emerged in a 1-2 at the head of the field before the factory Ferraris took over in the lead. When the No. 64 Corvette fell back due to issues, the No. 63 kept up the chase and found itself in the lead on a handful of occasions to a different strategy. 

Ferrari came out of the night with only its No. 51 car in victory contention after a left-right suspension failure for the No. 52 machine, while the Corvette was still there.

AF Corse rolled the dice by pitting for a brake change midway through the 19th hour, at around 10:30 a.m., which cost Ledogar approximately half a minute to Catsburg.

The Corvette was then affected by a Slow Zone period which extended the Ferrari’s lead back out to around 40 seconds.

From there, Ledogar, Calado and Pier Guidi were able to manage the rest of the race to clinch a second Ferrari triumph in three years.

The Porsches lost ground after getting separated from the leading group by the timing of safety car trains. The long 8.5-mile Le Mans lap requires the use of three safety cars.

This set Porsche on the back foot for the second half of the race, while a relatively clean morning without any safety car interventions made it difficult for the German manufacturer to latch onto the lead battle.

AF Corse’s No. 83 Crew Completes Ferrari Double

Reigning WEC GTE-Am champions Nicklas Nielsen and Francois Perrodo, joined by their 2021 co-driver Alessio Rovera, claimed a dominant victory in GTE-Am for AF Corse.

Nielsen, who shared in Ferrari’s recent 24H Spa win with Pier Guidi and Ledogar, brought the No. 83 Ferrari to the line 1 minute, 41 seconds ahead of the No. 33 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GTE of Felipe Fraga, Dylan Pereira and Ben Keating.

AF Corse led consistently from the seventh hour onwards after an early period of ascendancy for defending winner TF Sport.

The Ferrari had a strong run through the night, while TF encountered a setback on Saturday evening when Fraga nosed into the first Mulsanne chicane tire wall before pitting for repairs.

The morning saw AF Corse consolidate the advantage it had built up over the dark hours, with consistent stints from all three drivers including Bronze-rated pilot Perrodo ensuring a first-time Le Mans win for all members of the No. 83 crew.

Matteo Cressoni, Rino Mastronardi and Formula 1 test driver Callum Illot, making his Le Mans debut, took third in class with the No. 80 Iron Lynx Ferrari.

Iron Lynx also finished fourth courtesy of Paolo Ruberti, Raffaele Giammaria and Claudio Schiavoni, who ended up just under a minute up the road from Dempsey-Proton Porsche drivers Matt Campbell, Jaxon Evans and Christian Ried.

There were nine retirements from GTE-Am, more than any other category, as 14 of the 23 starters reached the finish.

Notable exits included the NorthWest AMR Aston Martin that crashed out to bring the first non-weather-related safety car after just over three hours, and the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche which crashed out at the first Mulsanne chicane in hour seven.

Both Project 1 Porsches failed to reach the end, along with the Cetilar Racing Ferrari which headed to Le Mans as the WEC GTE-Am points leader.

RESULTS: 24 Hours of Le Mans

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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