The TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, round six of the 2021 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS, lived up to its reputation of being the world’s greatest GT3 contest with a race that had everything, including a pass for victory on the closing laps that will be remembered for many years.
The overall win was taken by the #51 Iron Lynx Ferrari F488 GT3 piloted by Côme Ledogar, Nicklas Nielsen and, driving the final stint, Alessandro Pier Guidi.
The Italian driver finished just under four seconds ahead of Dries Vanthoor in the #32 Audi Sport team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 in the car Vanthoor shared with Kelvin van der Linde and Charles Weerts.
Completing the overall podium was the #95 Garage 59 Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 with the driving trio of Marco Sorensen, Ross Gunn and Nicki Thiim, Sorenson at the wheel for the final stint.
Class honours in the Silver Cup category went to the #90 Madpanda Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Ezequiel Perez Companc, Ricardo Sanchez, Patrick Kujala and Rik Breukers. The #7 Toksport WRT Mercedes was second in class, Axcil Jefferies, Oscar Tunjo, Paul Petit and Marvin Dienst sharing the driving duties.
The third step on the class podium was taken by the #159 Garage 59 Aston Martin crewed by Tuomas Tujala, Alex MacDowall, Valentin Hasse Clot and Nicolai Kjaergaard.
In the Pro-Am Cup, the class victory went to the #53 AF Corse Ferrari F488 GT3 driven by Duncan Cameron, Rino Mastronardi, Matt Griffin and Miguel Molina with the sister #52 car finishing second in class.
The #166 Haegell by T2 Racing Porsche 911 GT3-R of Pieder Decurtins, Dennis Busch, Manual Lauck and Marc Basseng took the win in the Am Cup class.
There was a huge accident after 22 minutes of racing at Raidillon involving the #114 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 driven by Jack Aitken, the #21 Rutronik Racing Porsche driven by Kevin Estre, the #163 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini of Franck Perera and Davide Rigon’s #71 Iron Lynx Ferrari. All drivers went to the medical centre from which Aitken and Rigon were transferred to the hospital. It was later announced that Aitken had broken his collarbone, fractured a vertebrae and sustained a small lung contusion.
Marciello in the #88 Mercedes led after the restart but rain and a switch to wet weather tyres meant that the #37 Audi Sport Team WRT Audi with Nico Muller at the wheel took the lead followed by the #38 JOTA McLaren after two hours.
The #32 Audi, which had started from 55th on the grid, was now making progress up the field and was in 12th.
With some teams taking advantage of a brief Full Course Yellow, the #63 Orange 1 FFF Racing Lamborghini took the lead with the Nicklas Nielsen in the #51 Iron Lynx Ferrari moving into second after four hours.
Alessandro Pier Guidi took the first points of the race by leading in the #51 Iron Lynx Ferrari at the six-hour mark with Andrea Caldarelli’s #63 Lamborghini in second.
Iron Lynx regained the lead at the halfway point, scoring maximum points. The #32 Audi was second and the #95 Garage 59 Aston Martin was in third, the #63 Lamborghini having fallen down the order due to a penalty served on Marco Mapelli for speeding in the pitlane.
Iron Lynx continued to keep the pressure on and, by two-thirds distance, Nicklas Nielsen had a 14 second advantage over the #32 Audi with the #95 Aston Martin in third. The top three remained in those positions as the race entered the final six hours. With three hours to run, however, the #32 Audi started to put pressure on the #51 Ferrari and Nielsen was almost passed by van der Linde at the final chicane. Nielsen held on, however, and the van der Linde made brief contact with the #93 Ferrari.
Pier Guidi took over for the final stint but had to hand the lead over to the #32 Audi when Audi Sport team WRT gambled on fitting wet weather tyres ahead of a downpour, the likes of which had been plaguing Europe throughout the afternoon. The move gave Dries Vanthoor a huge advantage as the rain arrived.
Pier Guidi pitted for wets and immediately was the quicker car of the leading duo. The Italian chased down the Audi and passed the #32 Audi at Blanchimont. The #51 Ferrari then held on to take the win.
Pier Guidi was delighted to take his first Pro Cup victory at the Total Energies 24 Hours of Spa.
“I have tried many times to win this race, and after two second places overall and two wins in the Pro-Am Cup, I am very happy to take this overall victory,” said Pier Guidi. “We led the race for most of the time, but in the last half hour everything looked lost. After the restart I decided to give everything – I had no choice.
“Maybe it was not the easiest overtake on Dries, but he made a small mistake exiting Stavelot and I managed to get alongside. I don’t know why, but I felt I had to go for it and it worked. This is an incredible feeling and it will take a bit of time to understand what we did.”
Audi Sport Team WRT’s Dries Vanthoor was pleased that the gamble to change to wet weather tyres paid off but realised that Pier Guidi’s Ferrari would be quicker.
“Before my last pit stop I reported there was a large dark cloud coming towards the circuit, and the team immediately decided to go for wets. That was a very good call. But when the lights went to green, I immediately felt that I did not have all the grip that I would have liked.
“I was not surprised when the team told me the Ferrari was catching me. I tried everything I could, but when he got alongside I tried to play it fair and we did not touch. They were quick anyway, both in the dry and the wet.”
The 2021 Fanatec GT World Challenge Powered by AWS Europe now moved to the UK and Brands Hatch for Round Seven on August 28 – 29.