World champions Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado won the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, round two of the FIA World Endurance Championship, while teammates Miguel Molina and Antonio Fuoco took the third step of the podium.
The race was full of twists and turns, mainly due to the weather, which, as forecast and as tradition has it, shuffled the pack. The rain made driving skills and strategy count for more than the pure performance of the cars, partially nullifying the pros and cons of the Balance of Performance. As often happens, the Ferrari crews and pit wall made the difference in the difficult conditions, allowing the Maranello marque to claim its first triumph of the season.
The race featured three red flags and numerous Safety Car phases due to the vast amounts of water on the track and the many accidents and run-offs, fortunately harmless. After the second hour, the Ferraris took the lead with the 488 GTE driven by Miguel Molina ahead of the twin car, then driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi, with the Italian overtaking the number 92 Porsche on wet asphalt. Earlier, the two Maranello cars struggled to keep pace with the leaders in the dry. At the end, with a dry track, James Calado – who had inherited top spot from Fuoco while the latter made a quick pit stop during a Full Course Yellow – used all his experience, speed and talent to defend the lead from the attacks of the number 92 Porsche. The world champion successfully countered his rival’s every attempt and crossed the finish line victorious.
Miguel Molina and Antonio Fuoco took third place after a superb performance. The Spaniard was outstanding when conditions were toughest, while the Italian was damaged by a lapping that robbed him of the chance to take a well-deserved second place.
The Ferraris had a tricky race in the LMGTE Am class, but AF Corse’s number 54 488 GTE performed well, with Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci and Nick Cassidy fourth after a fantastic comeback.
The Italian national anthem rang out again on the podium at Spa-Francorchamps after Pier Guidi-Calado and Molina-Fuoco took first and third place. We heard from the competitors at the end of this exciting race.
Antonello Coletta: “In a very tough race, there was a great balance between our two crews who never fought each other but constantly tried to help each other from the start to the chequered flag. We undoubtedly benefited from our competitiveness in the wet, which allowed us to close the gap we experienced in the dry, which was largely the same as Sebring. We are delighted with Alessandro and James’s victory in the second championship race, complemented by Miguel and Antonio’s third place, because it is a great team result”.
Alessandro Pier Guidi: “To be honest, the first part of the race in the wet was challenging. But this is Spa, so the weather is by definition unpredictable. These were the conditions we needed to try and fight for victory because we knew we didn’t have a chance in the dry. However, in the wet, anything can happen. I was in the car for a long time, but in the end we were fast in the rain, and I tried to push as hard as possible. We lost a lot of time with the first red flag because there was no pass-around, and then with the second one, luckily, we gained it. At the restart, I found myself behind the Am’s. Basically, I couldn’t see anything in front of me because of the water thrown up by their cars. So much so that I sometimes had to lift my foot on the straight. It was difficult to keep control of the car, especially coming out of the pits on cold tyres, so it was a constant gamble. We needed a race like this to have any chance of winning, and we did well to take it, also thanks to James’ fantastic work in final stages. The Porsches were a lot quicker than us in the dry, and he did well to defend himself and win. We didn’t expect this, so we are all the happier for this victory”.
James Calado: “It wasn’t easy to climb into the car with cold slicks and a wet track during the Full Course Yellow. I tried to adapt my driving to the conditions as quickly as possible without having the right references as I hadn’t had a chance to drive earlier in the race. At the finish, I knew I would have to deal with the Porsche. Especially in the first and second sectors, they were extremely quick, but I didn’t give up and gave it my all, nearly losing control of the car at least twice over the last two laps, but I had to drive to the limit. It’s wonderful to have won again and have two Ferraris on the podium”.
Miguel Molina: “I think we were very competitive today, especially in the dry, vis-à-vis our teammates, but for one reason or another we still lack something to win. However, we should be happy because, with everything that happened in the race, we made the most of a good strategy. We can fight for victory in these conditions because it is an excellent car. I think we deserved more than that today, but we accept the result and look ahead to the next race”.
Antonio Fuoco: “We are a team, and we always try to do our best. Today we were a bit unlucky with the lapped drivers, and the Porsche took advantage of that. Otherwise, I think we would have achieved a one-two. We did a good job, improving over the weekend, and I personally pushed hard on every lap. It would have been difficult to achieve this result in the dry, but anything can happen at Spa, and although it was a tough race, we should be proud of what we did. So I am happy with the result and also for the team because they always work hard. We have to continue like this because the next race is Le Mans and we want to do well”.