After 23 hours and 45 minutes of on-track action, the Spa 24 sports car race this weekend came down to a battle in the closing fifteen minutes to decide the whole shooting match. In the rain. At one of the most daunting race courses in the world. Between seriously qualified racers Dries Vanthoor and Alessandro Pier Guidi. It was just the perfect piece of endurance racing, and just continues to prove that it isn’t over until it’s over.
The Iron Lynx Ferrari of Pier Guidi, Côme Ledogar and Nicklas Nielsen kicked off the race from 13th on the grid in a stacked field of GT3 talent from basically every manufacturer. They were the fastest car on the track, whether wet or dry, and by the time the six hour mark was ticked, they’d moved into the lead and stayed there for most of the race. It wasn’t until the final four hours of the race that the WRT Audisport R8 team of Vanthoor, Kelvin van der Linde, and Charles Weerts came into contention and passed for the overall lead of the race.
In the final hour Pier Guidi was back out front with a significant lead as he pitted for what he figured would be the last time. Vanthoor came into the pits while the race track was still very dry and opted to put on rain tires. A bold move, to be sure. But no sooner did he rejoin the race as the skies opened and poured wet stuff on the field. Pier Guidi’s duck was cooked, surely.
The Ferrari tiptoed around a full lap of wet racing on slicks, losing gobs of time to the Audi. As many racers slid off the track on slicks in the wet, the Iron Lynx managed to tiptoe around safely to fit wet weather tires and rejoin behind the Audi. And then a full course yellow for another crashed Ferrari saw the racing paused. Pier Guidi had an opportunity as the field was bunched up.
Once the race went back to green, it was a 28-minute sprint to the finish. Pier Guidi and the Ferrari were once again finding serious speed and closing the gap to the lead in no time at all. For ten minutes he sat more or less behind the Audi looking for weak points. Despite a few minor jiggles on wet curbs, the Ferrari was obviously the quicker car and driver pairing, and in time Pier Guidi decided to make a jump at it.
What a pass it was. Man, just the perfect measured set up to a perfect measured pass. Pier Guidi is a veteran of this sport, and his talent level in low-grip situations really shows. Obviously there are setup differences and chassis differences at play here between the Audi and the Ferrari, as we don’t know exactly how the cars were prepped, but it’s fair to say that top level drivers from top level teams put it all on the line and played it perfectly. Alessandro had the pace and made it stick without so much as a breath of contact or a tiptoe over the “track limits” line. Great respectful racing to determine a top-tier race win. I’ll remember this one for years to come.