A strategic gamble at the Paul Ricard 1000Km paid off giving Alessandro Pier Guidi the victory alongside Tom Blomqvist and Côme Ledogar at the wheel of the 488 GT3 Evo 2020, to become GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup champions.
Fourth hour. At the halfway point, the rain that had been predicted began to fall on certain sections of the track which was officially declared wet by race stewards. These conditions – not particularly favourable to Maranello machinery – were very reminiscent of the conditions experienced at the recent 24 Hours of Spa. Over this period, both Ledogar and Antonio Fuoco performed double stints with the former holding third spot and the Italian seventh. In Pro Am class, Machiels lay in third place ahead of Eddie Cheever, in fourth, and Pierre Ehret, seventh. The rain, while soaking the track in certain places was not enough to warrant tyre changes, although the lack of grip proved troublesome for some of the cars involved. Among these, the AF Corse #52 which, with Machiels currently at the wheel, span on the straight, breaking the rear wing and part of the front end, forcing the team to retire the car. The same fate befell the second Rinaldi Racing car, forced to withdraw from the race with Ehret at the wheel. The only Ferrari left competing in Pro Am class was Sky Tempesta Racing’s 488 GT3 Evo 2020 with Eddie Cheever in third position.
Fifth hour. At top of the hour, the frontrunners began to pit, but the two Ferraris belonging to Ledogar and Fuoco lengthened their on-track presence, taking advantage of the clear track ahead. The Italian pitted on lap 123 to hand over to Sirotkin, while Pier Guidi took over from Ledogar two laps later, exiting the pit-lane in second position. The 2017 world champion set about clawing back 10”6 from race leader Jaminet, while Sirotkin attempted to reel in Bortolotti. However, the battle between the GPX Racing-run Porsche and the AF Corse Ferrari was stealing the show with the two crews producing a monumental battle for the championship. The gap between the Italian and the Frenchman was gradually whittled down from 8″5 seconds, with ten minutes to go until the start of the final hour, however, the Ferrari driver had to endure being overtaken by Dennis Lind who, in the meantime, had found renewed vigour behind.
Sixth hour. As night began to fall, the race was reaching its decisive point. The final pit-stops were to cause a major reshuffle in the race order. Lengthening the stint as much as possible, Pier Guidi made his entrance into the pit-lane on lap 158 and took a gamble by replacing only the two left tyres in a perfectly executed pit-stop by the AF Corse mechanics. The Italian was thus able to re-emerge on track, directly ahead of Jaminet’s Porsche and, from that point on, pushed hard to extend the gap from his rival, maintaining an advantage that ranged from two to three seconds. With Cheever third in Pro Am and Sirotkin seventh in Pro class, the entire AF Corse garage held their breath in the gripping final showdown. The great cool-headedness of Pier Guidi proved the decisive factor and the AF Corse driver crossed the finish-line in first position, to become the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup champion.