Alessandro Pier Guidi became the first Ferrari driver to clinch the GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup drivers’ title as the Italian won the Paul Ricard 1000km with his guesting AF Corse co-drivers Tom Blomqvist and Come Ledogar.
AF Corse’s decision to affix left-side tires only at its final pit stop helped Pier Guidi to come out one car length ahead of Mathieu Jaminet in the No. 12 GPX Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R that had been a dominant force until that defining moment in the race.
Jaminet, Matt Campbell and Patrick Pilet ran flawlessly throughout the six-hour contest and were on course to clinch the title until the No. 51 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 got past.
After reducing the Porsche’s 12-second advantage over the penultimate stint, Pier Guidi was able to seize the lead through a combination of AF Corse’s tire call and the fact that his Ferrari had been running one lap-longer stints than the Porsche all afternoon.
Although Pier Guidi lost second to the No. 63 Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo just before the final pit stops, defending Endurance Cup champion Andrea Caldarelli came in three laps earlier than his Italian compatriot, losing six seconds.
In the title-deciding stint, Pier Guidi negotiated the traffic to keep Jaminet – who had four new tires – at bay to take the checkered flag by a winning margin of 1.69 seconds.
Caldarelli, Dennis Lind and Marco Mapelli completed the podium with their Lamborghini crossing the line nine seconds off the winner.
The result put Pier Guidi, whose full-season co-drivers Nicklas Nielsen and James Calado were absent from Paul Ricard due to their clashing commitments in the 8 Hours of Bahrain, on a final score of 79 points against the 65-point haul for the GPX Racing trio.
The 2017 FIA World Endurance GT champion’s guesting co-drivers Blomqvist and Ledogar kept the Ferrari at the sharp end of the field, leading up to its push for the win.
Blomqvist snatched the lead at the first corner from pole-sitter Toni Vilander in SMP Racing’s Ferrari, and while both 488 drivers went on to lose positions in the opening stint, Blomqvist kept his car in the points-paying zone.
Ledogar then hauled AF Corse back into the top three, while the Frenchman’s change to Pier Guidi at the end of the fourth hour heralded the Ferrari’s progression above FFF.
Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy arrived into the season finale at the top of the table but their AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo finished outside the points.
An issue with the car’s front splitter coming loose and scraping the track surface cost it time and ultimately dropped it to 18th.
Sven Mueller, Christian Engelhart and Matteo Cairoli were level with Marciello and Boguslavskiy, but their Dinamic Motorsport Porsche finished 10th for a single point.
Boguslavskiy still earned the overall GT World Challenge drivers’ title which takes results from the Endurance Cup and Sprint Cup seasons, both of which have now concluded.
His closest challengers Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts needed to finish second at Paul Ricard with their WRT co-driver Christopher Mies to overturn the points gap.
Vanthoor brought the No. 32 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo through in fourth, one spot ahead of his WRT teammates Kelvin van der Linde, Mirko Bortolotti and Rolf Ineichen.
Maro Engel, Luca Stolz and Vincent Abril finished sixth as the highest-placed Mercedes-AMG crew, while SMP Racing’s pole-sitting Ferrari of Sergey Sirotkin, Antonio Fuoco and pole man Vilander took seventh.
In eighth was the No. 163 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini which led in the early stages before fading.
Albert Costa finished ahead of Mattia Drudi in the No. 66 Attempto Racing Audi which battled Emil Frey at the front in the first couple of hours before losing its place at the sharp end to a drive-through penalty for jumping the start.
Barwell, Garage 59 Win Class Titles
Silver Cup race honors went to Barwell Motorsport’s Frederik Schandorff, Alex MacDowall and Patrick Kujala who also sealed the class championship in the process.
Kujala finished 14th overall, with a car between him and the second-placed Tech 1 Racing Lexus RC F GT3 that went off-strategy after an unscheduled stop to repair a loose hood.
The Pro-Am race was decided by an overtake in the final stint, as Garage 59 saved its Pro driver Marvin Kirchhofer – standing in for the Bahrain-bound Jonny Adam – until the latter stages.
Kirchhofer bridged the gap to Bronze-rated Leo Machitski in the No. 77 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini before drafting past the Russian driver along the Mistral Straight with just over 20 minutes remaining.
The result ensured Kirchhofer’s Bronze co-drivers Chris Goodwin and Alexander West scooped the class title after coming in tied on points with Sky-Tempesta Racing’s Chris Froggatt, Jonathan Hui and Eddie Cheever III who finished third behind Barwell.
Victory in the two-car Am Cup class went to CMR’s No. 108 Bentley Continental GT3 driven by Philippe Chatelet, Stephane Tribaudini and Nicolas Misslin.