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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Boguslavskiy Move on Ferrari “Key of the Race” for AKKA-ASP

AKKA-ASP technical manager explains how team set up its Kyalami 9 Hour win…

Photo: Anton Wannenburg/Mercedes-AMG

A move by Timur Boguslavskiy on Come Ledogar to keep AKKA-ASP in the net lead was the “key of the race” at the Joburg Kyalami 9 Hour, according to the winning team’s technical manager Guillaume Andrieux.

AKKA-ASP claimed its first Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli victory from pole with Boguslavskiy and AMG factory drivers Jules Gounon and Raffaele Marciello.

Andrieux felt that a crucial moment occurred on four hours when Boguslavskiy jinked down the inside at Turn 2 to put AKKA-ASP ahead of the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020.

The Russian driver then established a three-second gap over Ledogar before handing over to Marciello, who worked up a comfortable lead that withstood until the end.

“The three drivers did an amazing job,” Andrieux told Sportscar365. “The key of the race for us is when Timur Boguslavskiy managed to overtake the Ferrari at pit exit. It was a nice move from him.

“Staying in front of the Ferrari was the key to victory because otherwise it would have been a very different race. We couldn’t have managed the gap.

“He did a very strong stint, it was really amazing. And then Lello managed to increase the gap, to be able to do the clock reset, then Jules managed the end of the race.”

Prior to Boguslavskiy getting in the No. 89 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, Gounon led the field away from a restart on the three-hour mark.

AKKA-ASP did not pit during the preceding FCY whereas the No. 51 Ferrari had pitted very shortly before. Instead, Gounon reset his 65-minute maximum stint time by rolling through the pits and continuing for as long as his fuel tank and tires could allow him.

The Frenchman held a 10-second lead over the No. 51 Ferrari when he pitted 33 minutes after the restart, but the net margin came down as Boguslavskiy warmed up his cold new set of Pirellis versus Alessandro Pier Guidi who was midway through a stint.

That made things tight when Ledogar exited the pits after taking over from Pier Guidi on the four-hour mark, but Boguslavskiy’s pass ensured that AKKA-ASP kept in charge.

“As we were pitting earlier, the gap that we could create with the hot tires [came down],” Andrieux explained.

“When we pitted for the full tank and cold tires for Timur, the two or three first laps are tricky, so this is how the Ferrari caught us again.

“The same happened in the stint after with Lello, when we arrived at pit exit at the same time as the Ferrari. We also managed to stay in front, but both times it was close.

“For sure if we stayed behind the Ferrari the race would have been completely different.”

When asked why AKKA-ASP reset Gounon’s stint clock after three hours, putting the Mercedes-AMG off-sequence for part of the race, Andrieux said: “We saw the Ferrari doing this in the first stint, and we didn’t expect it.

“The goal was to try to match the strategy. When we saw the Full Course Yellow, we decided to do the clock reset because we were not losing any time under [slower conditions].

“Then we were very tight in terms of stint and driving times. We were just hoping for a Full Course Yellow that never came.

“We had to push like hell to make some gap to the Ferrari behind.

“We tried to have enough space to do another clock reset under green conditions, which happened two hours to the end. This is what we did and managed to stay in front.”

Boguslavskiy, meanwhile, enjoyed his second stint in the car that ultimately helped AKKA-ASP to tee up what turned into a dominant victory.

“The first stint was quite tight because of the temperature in the car, but in the second stint I was feeling really good,” he told Sportscar365.

“I had good pace in the second stint, I think. I saw the Ferrari was going from the pit lane; I don’t know if he was pushing me or not.

“I made a dive on the inside and that was it. I was pushing after because I understood he had cold tires, so it meant that he needed one or two laps and I was already good.

“It was quite a good race for me and I’m also really happy for my teammates and AMG. Many thanks to our engineers who did an amazing job.”

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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