Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado have become the first repeat GTE-Pro winners of the FIA World Endurance Championship season by taking class victory in the Six Hours of Circuit of The Americas on Saturday.
The AF Corse drivers drove a consistent race to take their second win in the last three races, having also stood on the top step of the podium at the Nürburgring.
It, however, came with some late-race drama as Pier Guidi pitted with less than ten minutes to go after picking up a left-front puncture but came out of the pits barely ahead of the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR of Michael Christensen.
The class lead changed throughout the race between both AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTEs, the No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE and No. 92 Porsche.
Christensen finished second in class in the car he shares with Kevin Estre and was unable to pass Pier Guidi at the pit lane exit because of traffic.
Earlier in the stint, the Danish driver overtook Sam Bird to deny AF Corse its second 1-2 finish of the season, but the Brit held on to the final podium position.
Bird co-drove the No. 71 Ferrari with pole sitter Davide Rigon, while eventual winner Calado started from fourth in class.
Despite leading early on in the race, Mexico winners Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen dropped down the order as the race progressed.
Ultimately, their No. 95 Aston Martin finished fourth while the sister car of Darren Turner, Jonny Adam and Daniel Serra crossed the line in fifth.
The No. 91 Porsche was next to finish while the pair of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs were last in class, struggling on tires and with the No. 66 receiving two penalties.
Nevertheless, Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell still lead the standings, with Porsche’s Fred Makowiecki and Richard Lietz closing to within six points.
Aston Martin Racing, meanwhile, overcame damage early in the race to take its second GTE-Am class win of the season.
Paul Dalla Lana sustained damage on the No. 98 Aston Martin’s rear diffuser early in the race when Francesco Castellacci made contact with it under braking, which also broke the power steering.
While the Aston Martin spent time in its garage for repairs, Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda bounced back to take the class win.
They finished 50 seconds ahead of the Clearwater Racing Ferrari while the Spirit of Race car rounded out the podium.
Michael Wainwright’s Gulf Racing Porsche was the only GTE car to retire after he spun off track at the halfway point and hit the tire barrier, which called for the race’s only safety car period, as repairs were carried out.
RESULTS: 6H COTA