Ferrari driver James Calado says he “could have cried” when his FIA World Endurance Championship class victory at Austin last weekend was threatened by a late puncture.
Calado and AF Corse teammate Alessandro Pier Guidi racked up their second GTE Pro win of the season on Saturday at the Circuit of the Americas, despite having an advantage of more than 30 seconds wiped out on two occasions.
The first of these came around the halfway mark with a safety car period, although Calado and Pier Guidi were able to rebuild their lead before a puncture for the #51 Ferrari 488 GTE with 11 minutes to go threatened to hand victory to Porsche.
However, a rapid pitstop allowed Pier Guidi to resume just in front of the #92 car of Michael Christensen, and he eventually pulled five seconds clear before the chequered flag.
“Obviously it was very intense in the last 10 minutes,” recalled Calado.
“To see him [Pier Guidi] going down the straight at 260km/h with rubber and god-knows-what flying out of the side, I could have cried.
“But he came out the pitlane three tenths in front of the Porsche, and he just drove it like he stole it and we got the win. One to remember, this one.”
Pier Guidi added: “After the second corner already I expected the puncture. But I had to decide to drive safe or take some risks to try and get the win.
“I took some risks, I drive flat-out, tried to be quick as possible.
“Going out of the pit I was watching the mirror and prayed I wouldn’t see the Porsche. I saw it, but it was far enough.
“Then I pushed again to create a small gap, it works and we win.”
Calado and Pier Guidi are now only seven points away from the top of the GTE Pro class standings with their latest victory, with Ford pair Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx only managing a seventh-place finish at Austin.