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No Nerves for Calado Ahead of GTE-Pro Title Showdown

James Calado is remaining relaxed ahead of this weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship showdown in Bahrain…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

James Calado is remaining relaxed ahead of this weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship showdown in Bahrain as he and co-driver Alessandro Pier Guidi fight for the inaugural GT Drivers’ World Championship.

The GTE-Pro class was given world championship status for the first time by the FIA this year, with Ferrari wrapping up the manufacturers’ title at the last race in Shanghai.

The battle for the drivers’ crown is wide open heading into Bahrain, with Calado and Pier Guidi sitting just two points clear of Porsche’s Fred Makowiecki and Richard Lietz.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell are just 7.5 points behind Calado and Pier Guidi, while Davide Rigon is mathematically still in contention in the sister AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE, sitting 21.5 points back.

With Ferrari, Porsche and Ford braced for a close showdown, Calado said he is not letting nerves get the better of him, instead expressing his confidence in AF Corse to give its all in search of its first drivers’ title since 2014.

“The season’s been pretty good,” he said. “We had a pretty tough Le Mans which was unfortunate. We expected a lot more at Le Mans, so we lost a lot of points there.

“But we’ve come into this race with a two-point advantage over Porsche. As you know it’s really close between the Porsche and also the Ford, 7.5 points [back] to the 67.

“So really I think there is a lot of pressure for all the guys, but we won’t treat it any differently at all. I’m not nervous about it.

“I’m pretty confident that we’re going to do a good job. I’ve got huge trust in my team with their strategy. We’ve shown over the year that we’ve really done a good job in terms of strategy.

“I’m just looking forward to the battle, it’s going to be a really good one.

“It’s nice to see GT getting a bit more recognition, especially this weekend.

“So let’s put on a good show and it’s all about enjoying it.”

AF Corse last took the GTE-Pro drivers’ crown in 2014 with Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander, back when the title was known as the World Cup for GT Drivers.

GTE-Pro is currently enjoying significant manufacturer interest, with BMW set to join Ferrari, Ford, Porsche and Aston Martin in the class next year, with the greater profile pleasing Calado.

“It’s nice to finally get some recognition,” Calado said. “You can see that between all the manufacturers and the drivers.

“The racing’s fair. It’s super fun, it’s super close, and there’s going to be an increase in cars next year. It’s on the rise.

“I would like for them to be a little bit quicker than they are now, because right now they’re a little bit slow.

“But it’s super competitive, it’s super tight at the front, and makes the racing really, really good.

“It’s not down to us, obviously, it’s down to the ACO, the FIA to make those decisions.

“But obviously so far, so good. GTE is proving to be a tough championship to be in.”

Luke Smith is a British motorsport journalist who has served as NBC Sports’ lead Formula 1 writer since 2013, as well as working on its online sports car coverage.

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