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Le Mans 24 Hours of Le Mans

Pier Guidi feared “everything was lost” before Ferrari Le Mans win

Ferrari driver Alessandro Pier Guidi has said he thought “everything was lost” when he spun into the gravel en route to the marque’s first Le Mans 24 Hours victory in 58 years.

Winner #51 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P of Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi

Pier Guidi and his team-mates in the #51 Ferrari 499P, James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi, made history for the Prancing Horse by beating the #8 Toyota GR010 HYBRID by one minute and 27 seconds in a chaotic and attritional race.

The Italian driver had been leading the race approaching midnight when he got his car beached in the gravel at the first Mulsanne chicane while trying to avoid another car that had gone off ahead of him.

However, quick recovery work from the marshals allowed Pier Guidi to get back on track and stay on the lead lap, from which point he and his team-mates were able to defeat the sole surviving #8 Toyota of Sebastien Buemi, Ryo Hirakawa and Brendon Hartley.

“To be honest it was a difficult moment,” reflected Pier Guidi. “Trying to avoid a collision, I went on the wet and went in the gravel trap.

“I just hoped the marshals were quick and in the end they did an amazing job [recovering the car], because I didn’t lose a lap. And then with the next safety car I was back in the game.

“Of course the couple of minutes in the gravel trap was not a nice feeling at all, [it felt like] everything was lost, I was in the lead. It was a shame. But there was still a long time to go and we know in the Le Mans 24 Hours everything can happen.

“I didn’t give up, I tried to push, and then when I was back in the game, I said, ‘ok, we can do it’.”

Race winners Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi, Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P

Race winners Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi, Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

Later in the race, Pier Guidi suffered a scare when he took over at a pitstop in the 19th hour as the #51 car wouldn’t restart, forcing the Italian driver to perform a full power cycle before rejoining - costing Ferrari around a minute relative to Toyota.

The problem occurred again late in the race, again while Pier Guidi was at the wheel, but by this time the Ferrari’s lead was much larger following an off for Ryo Hirakawa at Arnage in the #8 Toyota.

“We had a ‘fake’ red light and we could not start the car,” explained Pier Guidi. “We had to restart all the systems, and part of the procedure was to hold these two buttons, and I did this so I could restart.

“It happened twice, maybe for the second one I was more ready than the first one, and we managed to restart.”

Ferrari’s milestone victory, coming after a 50-year absence from the top class at Le Mans, came in only the fourth start for the 499P Le Mans Hypercar that had not previously won a race of the World Endurance Championship.

Podium: Winner #51 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P of Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi

Podium: Winner #51 Ferrari AF Corse Ferrari 499P of Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Antonio Giovinazzi

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

Both Calado and Giovinazzi admitted they were not sure that the new machine would be capable of going the distance.

“We were pushing as hard as we could,” said Calado. “At that time both cars [the #51 Ferrari and #8 Toyota] were similar on pace.

“We were quite surprised we made it to the end, because that [reliability] was our biggest fear.”

Giovinazzi added: “We didn’t expect to survive for 24 hours. But all the team and my team-mates all did a fantastic job and we are here.

"Thanks to Ferrari for an amazing job that this is happening, that we are back after 50 years and we win Le Mans. We should be really proud.”

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