Alessandro Pier Guidi described his final stint at the 3 Hours of Barcelona to clinch the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup title with his Iron Lynx crew as “one of the most difficult” of his career.
The Italian became the SRO series’ first double champion by finishing seventh in Sunday’s title decider after earlier stints from fellow champions Nicklas Nielsen and Come Ledogar.
As he did when he won the title last year, Pier Guidi took the final leg in the No. 51 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 now run by Iron Lynx. He needed to finish ninth or better to keep ahead of AKKA-ASP’s race winners Raffaele Marciello and Jules Gounon in the points.
Rather than needing to defend a race lead as he did at the 2020 Paul Ricard 1000km, Pier Guidi’s task to seal the 2021 championship was to carefully manage his place in a busy pack that had developed at the head of the field after two final-hour safety cars.
The Ferrari factory driver successfully held onto seventh, but he and his co-drivers agreed that their car was not the most competitive at Barcelona and therefore required a resilient drive to win the title.
“It feels amazing,” said Pier Guidi. “Thanks to Ferrari, because for them I am here twice. I am very happy to be the first one to win the GT World Challenge [Endurance Cup] title two times in a row.
“This one was really tough. The last stint was probably one of the most difficult of my career because I was updating by radio all the time about the situation.
“It was always a compromise between how much I have to risk overtaking someone and which position I had to keep. It was very difficult, but at the end we squeezed everything out of the car.
“We missed something this weekend, but we are here and we had a strong result to win the championship. It’s incredible what we did.
“The key was at Spa when we scored a lot of points, and we were on point in each race. This is why we were able to win.”
The No. 51 Iron Lynx Ferrari crew seized the Endurance Cup lead six hours into the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, when they claimed maximum points at the first of two mid-race distribution intervals.
A clean sweep of the points in the Spa race, which they won, was followed by seventh at the Nürburgring to give them a 13-point advantage heading into the season-closer.
Pier Guidi, Nielsen and Ledogar were the only crew to finish in the points at each round this year, but their title came at a race in which they felt less competitive than others.
Ledogar explained that, like Pier Guidi, he needed to be careful how he picked his battles during his middle stint behind the wheel.
“It was quite OK at the beginning, but then in traffic I had to be pretty aggressive because we were lacking some pace,” said the Frenchman.
“That was a bit more tricky. When you have a Lambo behind it’s difficult to hold, so I think the best decision was not to fight too hard against these cars.
“I managed to bring the car back in one piece, which was the main thing to do.”
Nielsen added that while it was “really hard to fight” at Barcelona, the Ferrari team could be satisfied with how it approached the championship campaign as a whole.
“The weekend was very difficult,” said the Dane, who claimed his first GTWC Europe title after winning the FIA World Endurance Championship GTE-Am class in 201920.
“From Free Practice it was pretty clear that we were lacking some pace. We didn’t know what to expect coming into qualifying.
“We did our best, and I think we did the maximum we could to compromise the lack of speed. There was not much I could do: I just sat behind one car for almost the whole stint and then finally managed to get past.
“It was really hard to fight this weekend. We were either getting passed or sitting behind the others. If you look at the whole championship, we are really happy with what we’ve done.
“I thank the team, Ale, Come and Ferrari. They’ve done an amazing job. To win it two years in a row, and also the 24 Hours of Spa in the same year, is incredible.”