THE STUFF OF LEGENDS
The 89th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the oldest and most prestigious endurance race and the fourth round of the FIA WEC World Championship, was dominated by AF Corse’s 488 GTEs, which triumphed in the LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am classes. Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Côme Ledogar at the wheel of the #51 Ferrari won the LMGTE Pro class, while Nicklas Nielsen, François Perrodo and Alessio Rovera lorded it over the LMGTE Am class. The Iron Lynx 488 GTE, crewed by Italians Rino Mastronardi and Matteo Cressoni and the Ferrari Driver Academy’s Callum Ilott, completed the podium in this category. A very special starter, Ferrari Chairman John Elkann, sent the cars on their way at 4pm on Saturday.
LMGTE Pro. The 2019 winners Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado claimed a brilliant victory, leading the race for most of the 24 hours. On this occasion, the pair were assisted by Côme Ledogar, who, together with Pier Guidi, recently made a name for himself at the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. This is the Frenchman’s first triumph at Le Mans, while the two 2017 world champions now have two to their name. The trio battled for most of the race against the Corvette of Garcia-Taylor-Catsburg, gaining a decisive advantage through their superior handling of the race’s neutralisation phases. Once again, AF Corse’s second car, crewed by Miguel Molina, Daniel Serra and Sam Bird, was unlucky. The #52 car was well in contention for the overall win before having to pit due to a suspension problem during the Spaniard’s stint with 10 hours left. Then, a puncture at Tertre Rouge during Sam Bird’s stint led to another long stop for the Ferrari, which then had to settle for fifth. Nevertheless, it earned important championship points in a race with twice the usual number up for grabs. With this win, Pier Guidi and Calado move up to 124 points at the top of the standings. They lie 12 ahead of Estre and Jani, while Serra and Molina are now on 57. This is AF Corse’s fourth victory in the LMGTE Pro class following their wins in 2012, 2014 and 2019. It is the Prancing Horse’s 38th triumph in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with 29 class wins and nine overall. It is also the 488 GTE’s third victory in the French classic.
LMGTE Am. Nicklas Nielsen, François Perrodo and Alessio Rovera displayed clear-headedness, nerve and talent to claim AF Corse’s first win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans LMGTE Am class. They didn’t allow the drive-through penalty they suffered during the 24 hours to knock them off course. As in other WEC races, the reigning champions confirmed their desire to retain their title. They were helped in this by the speed of Alessio Rovera on his debut in this marathon. Iron Lynx’s 488 GTE #80 with Rino Mastronardi and Matteo Cressoni and the Ferrari Driver Academy’s Callum Ilott completed the podium. On his debut in this race, the Briton grew in speed and confidence, which only experience can provide.
The crew of the #60 car lined up by the Italian team, with the experienced Paolo Ruberti and Raffaele Giammaria alongside Claudio Schiavoni, climbed several positions in the championship standings with an excellent fourth position. Ninth place went to the last Iron Lynx Ferrari, crewed by the “Iron Dames” Rahel Frey, Michelle Gatting and Sarah Bovy, who again made it over the finish line. The second AF Corse entry, the #54 car driven by Giancarlo Fisichella (in his twelfth participation), Thomas Flohr and Francesco Castellacci, was unlucky to be kept out of the fight for the podium by a faulty axle shaft. Inception Racing’s 488 GTE crewed by Iribe-Millroy-Barnicoat was also up among the leaders at various stages before being forced to sit in the pits for several laps. The other Ferraris entered in an edition that will go down in the history of the Prancing Horse retired due to accidents or problems during the race.
Image: Ferrari sets the pace after twenty hours of Le Mans