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Intercontinental GT Challenge

AF Corse Wins Gulf 12H; Juncadella Crowned IGTC Champ

Antonio Fuoco, Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado lead 1-2 finish for Italian factory squad…

Photo: JEP/SRO

AF Corse claimed victory in the final factory outing for the Ferrari 488, following a controlling end-of-race run by Antonio Fuoco, James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi in Sunday’s Gulf 12 Hours.

Dani Juncadella, meanwhile, has been crowned Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli champion despite his Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM entry retiring in the second hour.

Fuoco took the No. 71 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 to a 14.388-second win over the sister No. 50 entry of Nicklas Nielsen, Alessio Rovera and Davide Rigon in an incident and strategy-filled enduro at Yas Marina Circuit.

In an odd twist to the start of the race, the majority of the front-running cars opted to make pit stops on the opening laps in order to fulfill the first of ten mandatory ‘Imposed Pit Stops’ including the No. 71 Ferrari of Pier Guidi.

AF Corse, however, opted for a split strategy, with the No. 50 car not pitting for the first time until early in the second hour, while a long stop to change the car’s brakes in Hour 9 ultimately resulted in its longest delay.

A self-enforced drive-through for the then-leading No. 71 car helped put the No. 50 car back on the lead lap, however.

Nielsen held off a hard-charging Patric Niederhauser in the No. 25 Team Sainteloc Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II for the runner-up finish, while the No. 77 Al Manar Racing by GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo finished fourth with Luca Stolz at the wheel.

Stolz’s co-driver Fabian Schiller was running second in the closing stages until encountering a slow final stop that cost the German squad nearly 20 seconds and two positions.

As was the case with the sister car and the No. 25 Sainteloc Audi, the winning No. 71 Ferrari was also forced to change brakes, although Fuoco capitalized on a lengthy Full Course Yellow just prior to halfway to undertake the service.

SunEnergy1 by SPS claimed top class honors in GT3 Pro-Am with a fifth place overall finish for Phillip Ellis and IGTC Pro-Am Challenge champions Kenny Habul and Martin Konrad.

Ellis, who starred at the wheel of the team’s No. 75 Mercedes, vaulted to a one-lap class lead over the No. 88 Garage 59 McLaren 720S GT3 of Marvin Kirchhofer following the race’s eighth FCY and seventh safety car period in the final two hours.

The No. 43 MDK Motorsports Ferrari, featuring Kevin and Jan Magnussen and Mark Kvamme, was seventh overall after a relatively trouble-free run in their AF Corse-run Prancing Horse.

Father-and-son Philippe and Louis Prette, Conrad Grunewald and Jean Claude Saada, meanwhile, picked up GT3 Am class honors in their No. 61 AF Corse Ferrari, in what marked a double victory for the Italian squad.

Audi’s challenge for the overall win was dashed with less than three hours to go when the No. 66 Team Tressor entry of Dennis Marschall collided with the GT Cup class-leading No. 92 Centri Ticino Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car of Ivan Jacoma, causing tire damage prior to the German driver pulling off-track with issues on his out lap.

Marschall was third as the best-placed Audi at the time of the incident, which he took responsibility for.

Another Audi, the No. 26 Sainteloc Junior Team entry of Gilles Magnus, stopped on track with terminal issues with just over 90 minutes to go after also running inside the top-five.

The pair of GruppeM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos, which swept the front row in qualifying, were both out of the race by the second hour, with the No. 98 car of Maro Engel retiring with a damaged oil pipe, while the No. 89 Mercedes had a water pressure issue while in the hands of Raffaele Marciello.

It opened the door for Stolz to potentially take the IGTC title but only if he had won the race.

Newly crowned champion Juncadella would have shared the crown with his co-drivers Marciello and Jules Gounon had they won or finished second in the race based on a drop-rule imposed by IGTC organizers SRO Motorsports Group.

Other retirements in the race included the GT3 Pro-Am class-contending No. 7 Inception Racing McLaren due to suspension damage, No. 16 EBM Giga Porsche 911 GT3 R due to an accident in the third hour and the No. 20 SPS Automotive Performance Mercedes after contact with a Ferrari later in the running.

GT Cup class honors went to the No. 92 Centri Porsche Ticino Porsche of Jacoma, Alex Fontana and Ashish Patel, which finished two laps ahead of the second-placed No. 95 Duel Racing by Toro Verde entry.

RESULTS: Gulf 12 Hours

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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