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Two wins and a podium for Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Spa

At the end of an intense and thrilling 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, the five Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020s competing in the great Ardennes classic claimed two victories and one podium place. The Maranello marque was the only one to see all its cars cross the finish line in the GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS flagship race held in front of over 73,000 spectators. After celebrating Fuoco, Rigon and Serra’s third place in the Pro class, the Belgian public applauded a first GT race win for the Iron Dames Frey, Bovy, Gatting and Pin in the Gold Cup and Bertolini, Machiels, Costantini and Rovera’s triumph in the Pro-Am.

Pro. The two Iron Lynx Ferraris were consistently in the top positions, but in the final hours, the number 51 and 71 fell away from a chance to fight for victory. Antonio Fuoco, Davide Rigon and Daniel Serra in the 488 GT3 Evo 2020, were hampered by a drive-through for a Full Course Yellow infringement in the early morning and a prolonged stop in the final stages. This left them on the bottom step of the podium, which Antonio Fuoco strenuously defended from the assaults of the number 55 Mercedes. Crossing the line in second place at the sixth hour and fourth at the twelfth hour, the number 71 crew, who arrived at Spa on top of the standings, nonetheless earned vital championship points. Teammates James Calado, Nicklas Nielsen and Miguel Molina closed in ninth. Leading the race after sixteen hours, the number 51 drivers saw any hopes of glory dashed by a puncture that forced their 488 GT3 Evo 2020 to make a problematic pit stop with less than two hours to go.

Gold Cup. The Ferrari of Doriane Pin, Michelle Gatting, Rahel Frey and Sarah Bovy secured a historic victory, the first by an all-female crew in GT racing. The Iron Dames held first place from the twelfth hour onwards, finishing the Belgian marathon in eighteenth overall. An achievement they had pursued with determination and courage since the project officially began in 2019. In this class, AF Corse’s 488 GT3 Evo 2020 crewed by Hugo Delacour, Cedric Sbirrazzuoli, Alessandro Balzan and David Perel crossed the line in seventh.

Pro-Am Cup. Andrea Bertolini, Louis Machiels, Stefano Costantini and Alessio Rovera secured a great win in the AF Corse 488 GT3 Evo 2020. Setting off from the pit lane due to a problem a few minutes before what should have been a start from pole, the quartet staged a magnificent comeback, also embellished by Alessio Rovera, who turned in the race’s fastest lap overall. This was Andrea Bertolini’s fifth victory in the Belgian classic, the third won alongside Louis Machiels.

Standings. Thanks to the extra points awarded by this race, the Endurance Cup standings changed, with the race-winning crew – Marciello-Gounon-Juncadella in Mercedes – leading on seventy-nine points, eleven more than the trio of Serra, Rigon and Fuoco. In the Gold Cup, the Iron Dames moved top on sixty-seven points, while in the Pro-Am class, Bertolini, Machiels and Costantini reduced the gap to the solitary leader Dominik Baumann to eight points.

Appointments. The eighth and penultimate round of the GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS season will run at Hockenheim in Germany from 2 to 4 September.

Antonello Coletta: “It was a difficult and very competitive race. Nevertheless, we achieved an excellent podium in the Pro class and a historic win with the Iron Dames in the Gold Cup. I would also like to highlight the victory in the Pro-Am class, which is of fundamental importance for us, with a splendid performance by Rovera, who set the fastest lap of the race, and the tremendous comeback that started from the pits rather than from pole position. I think we came away with the best result we could have hoped for”.

Antonio Fuoco: “We began the weekend with the right pace and looked competitive even though we then lost a bit of pace. We were pleased after qualifying because we had got the most out of the car. In the race, the team handled the track limits superbly, and I am delighted with the podium, for which I want to thank the entire team”.

Davide Rigon: “The penalty was one of the race’s key points and certainly makes the outcome frustrating. I don’t think I committed any infringement, and I did what we were told by the race director, which was to comply with the cockpit signalling system’s messages. I’m sorry because we were leading the race at the time, even though we lacked the pace of the BMWs or the Mercedes. In the end, a podium is nevertheless a good result. It was an uphill race for us after the penalty but let’s look at the positives: we scored many championship points. It was a pleasure driving with Antonio and Daniel. They did an excellent job. I thank Ferrari and Iron Lynx for all their support over the weekend”.

Daniel Serra: “I want to start by thanking the team for what we did. I think third place is an excellent result. We didn’t have the pace to fight for victory, but we did our best and won valuable points. At the moment, I don’t yet know if I will complete my involvement in this series because some of the Brazilian Stock car championship dates run concurrently. However, I was delighted to have helped Davide and Antonio”.

Sarah Bovy: “It’s fantastic for me to win in Belgium, exactly fifteen years after my first 24 Hours of Spa. I am proud to race with this team that did an excellent job this weekend and of what my teammates did and the decisions our engineers and mechanics made. I couldn’t have dreamt of a better race. Everything went well, and we fought hard, pushing down to the final lap. I am happy to share this excitement with the fans and my family”.

Rahel Frey: “This victory is a beautiful message for women in motorsport because we want to motivate more and more girls to take this path. We race in pink suits and a pink car. We do it to underline this message. As Sarah [Bovy, ed.] said, it was a tough battle, but we didn’t give in, and I hope other victories will follow”.

Doriane Pin: “It was an incredible race and a great feeling. We made no mistakes, neither in driving nor in the pits. I got to drive at night for the first time, and I would like to emphasise the wonderful support I had from my teammates and the team. I still can’t believe it. I’m super happy!

Michelle Gatting: “I struggled a bit with the track limits, and I think I was the only crew member to receive two warnings for not respecting them. As the other girls have said, we are very proud of what we’ve done, even if we still find it hard to believe that we climbed the top step of the podium. After qualifying, we didn’t have the pace, and I didn’t believe we could win. The 24 Hours of Spa is one of the races I fear most, but at the same time, it is a race I wanted to participate in. Our victory today raises the bar of expectations but also motivates us even more for the future”.

Miguel Molina: “It was a challenging and very tough race. We were always fighting in the top ten positions, but in the end, two problems prevented us from completing the race with a good result. Now we’ll think about the next one, Hockenheim, a circuit I like”.

Andrea Bertolini: “In emotional terms, this is a special victory because I have won the 24 Hours of Spa five times, two when I was young, with GT1s, and three with Louis [Machiels, ed.] However, each year it is harder and harder to achieve because the level keeps rising and, in addition, we had the problem that forced us to start from the pit lane. However, on Friday night, I sent Louis the photo of our first victory here, achieved precisely ten years ago. On that occasion, too, we had to start from the pits, but for different reasons. Maybe we will ask to start from the pit lane in the next race too!”

Louis Machiels: “It was a tough race for me, especially regarding the track limits because it was difficult to keep to them given the changing grip of the track. Andrea referred to the photo from ten years ago and, who knows, I’d like to line up for the 24 Hours of Spa in ten years too.

Stefano Comandini: “For me, being here is a dream, as is winning the Pro-Am. Starting from the pits, it wasn’t easy to win, but thanks to my teammates’ work and the car’s reliability, we did it. The track changed a lot over the hours, but luckily we didn’t have to tackle it in the rain”.

Alessio Rovera: “The race was fantastic, and finishing first is always special. It was a tough race in the cockpit and for the mechanics, yet all the pit stops were perfect. The car was perfect and winning is really lovely. Last year we came close to victory, finishing second, but this year everything went right”.

Source. Ferrari


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