Sunday, June 23, 2024

Ferrari AF Corse Drivers Celebrate Overall Le Mans Victory on Debut of 499P Hypercar

The Ferrari AF Corse squad secured a memorable victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans last weekend, with the #51 of Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi claiming overall honours at the first time of asking in the Hypercar class.

Despite a multitude of interruptions caused by slow zones, safety cars and rain, the Ferrari 499P, racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the very first time, came out on top ahead of the favourites Toyota Gazoo Racing, and despite incredible competition from the Cadillac Racing and Porsche Penske Motorsport.

Pier Guidi, perhaps fittingly, brought the car home at the end, with the Italian having recovered from an overnight spin to recapture the lead and fight hard against the #8 Toyota right up until the closing moments.

And the Italian was full of mixed emotions at the end as he tried to come to terms that he had won one of the biggest races in the world with one of the world’s best marques.

“It takes time to grasp what we did,” said Pier Guidi.  “Probably now, we are part of the history of Ferrari, the biggest brand in the world.

“As an Italian, I have dreamed of driving for this brand since childhood. Now it’s real. We won Le Mans with a red car. It isn’t easy to describe what you feel. It’s a mix of emotions.

“If you think about how much work there is behind this victory. We worked 24/7. We tried to give our best, but everyone worked non-stop, the engineers and the mechanics, for one year, and the work finally paid off.

“We knew from the start that reliability would be a key factor. The car was new and the race crazy: the weather was mad, with many slow zones and safety cars. But in the end, Le Mans is always like this.

“You have to try to stay out of trouble or at least to minimise the mistakes. I think we did quite well.”

Giovinazzi, a former FIA Formula 1 World Championship driver with the Alfa Romeo F1 Team and a part of Ferrari’s Formula 1 reserve bank of drivers, was delighted to come out on top and see the Scuderia claim their first outright victory at the Circuit de la Sarthe for more than fifty years.

And the Italian admitted it was amazing to be victorious at the first time of asking at the legendary twice around the clock event, particularly as they’ve only had the chance to drive and test the 499P since last July.

“For me and Alessandro it’s an even more special feeling,” said Giovinazzi.  “We first drove this car last July, so to have achieved this result, pole and victory, after just under a year, is undoubtedly fantastic.

“It was by no means a given that we’d make it, but the entire team and my teammates did a great job, and here we are today. Thanks to Ferrari, who made all this happen. We are back to winning ways after 50 years, and we should be very proud.”

Calado has previously won the GTE Pro class on two occasions but now has won overall for the first time, and he was equally delighted by the way the team performed throughout the whole 24 hours of the race.

The British racer won with AF Corse in both 2019 and 2021 but made the step up to Hypercar this year, and he praised the way the 499P drove throughout the event that enabled them to take it to the best in the business and come out on top.

“It’s an amazing feeling to win this race,” Calado added.  “The team did an amazing job. The track was amazing, honestly.

“It feels so special to drive: the balance, the performance, the engine, the way it works were superb. It’s a big thanks to everyone involved in this project to make this happen. I think it shows what Ferrari is made of.

“Obviously, I’ve won here in GT twice, but this is a bit different. Definitely a different feeling: the attention involved, the Ferrari fans, you can see all the red in every corner. So, a big thanks to all the supporters. I’m very happy.”.

Antonio Giovinazzi, James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi celebrate after their 24 Hours of Le Mans victory on Sunday – Credit: Scuderia Ferrari Press Office