Alessandro Pier Guidi was crowned the GT World Challenge Endurance Cup drivers’ champion after winning the season finale with series debutantes, Tom Blomqvist and Côme Ledogar.
Blomqvist took the lead at the first corner from Toni Vilander in the SMP Racing Ferrari in what turned out to be a very chaotic opening few corners. The Ferrari challenge appeared to be fading in the opening hour as the #163 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini got past the fellow Italian machines whilst at the hands of Giacomo Altoè. That was only to be the start though as both the AF Corse and SMP machines fell back further as the #12 GPX Racing Porsche moved to the head of the field during the second hour.
GPX pulled out a gap of more than 14 seconds at the head of the field as the race progressed which meant they were in control of the title battle. The AF Corse Ferrari however, fell to the lower half of the top 10 which meant the #51 machine would need to return to the lead if they wanted to be crowned champions.
At the second hour point, Ledogar started the AF Corse fight back as he began to make progress towards the front. By the half way mark, he had reached third place and was subsequently cutting the gap to the second-place #63 Orange1 FFF Racing Lamborghini.
The #51 car then moved into P2 during the fourth round of stops, which allowed Pier Guidi to chase down Mathieu Jaminet in the leading GPX Porsche. The Italian started cutting a lead that had been as much as 12 seconds down to seven showing that the AF Corse crew were not going allow Porsche to win without a fight.
In a crucial turn of events the GPX Porsche stopped for the final time with 45 minutes left on the clock, while the AF Corse Ferrari ran longer. The Italian squad was one of the very last to make its stop and played a brilliant piece of strategy as they changed only the left two tyres on the #51 machine. So despite falling behind Dennis Lind in the Lamborghini before the stops, it was enough to give Pier Guidi the narrowest of leads over Jaminet.
Jaminet had one last shot at grabbing the lead with 30 minutes on the clock but could not make it work and lost crucial time. Thereafter Pier Guidi was able to maintain a small gap all the way chequered flag, ultimately winning the race by just 1.6 seconds. Despite looking as though they were out of the fight at the start of the second hour, Ferrari could now celebrate its maiden overall title.
The podium was completed by last year’s Endurance Cup champion, with the #63 Orange1 FFF Racing Lamborghini taking third to end the season on a high. A pair of Belgian Audi Club Team WRT cars completed the top-five as the #32 machine came home ahead of the #31.
This was important as that finish meant the Belgian squad obtained the combined GT World Challenge Europe teams’ championship for the first time since 2015. They beat rival AKKA ASP after the #88 Mercedes-AMG suffered damage to its splitter and slipped out of the points. They didn’t come away with nothing though, Timur Boguslavskiy captured the GT World Challenge Europe drivers’ championship for 2020, becoming the youngest person to take the accolade at just 20 years of age.
Silver Cup race honors went to Barwell Motorsport’s Frederik Schandorff, Alex MacDowall and Patrick Kujala who also sealed the class championship in the process. Kujala finished 14th overall, with a car between him and the second-placed Tech 1 Racing Lexus that went off-strategy after an unscheduled stop to repair a loose hood.
The Pro-Am race was decided by driver stratergy in the final stint. Garage 59 saved its Pro driver Marvin Kirchhofer until the latter stages of the race. Kirchhofer then bridged the gap to Bronze-rated Leo Machitski in the No. 77 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini before drafting past the Russian driver along the Mistral Straight with just over 20 minutes remaining. The result ensured Kirchhofer’s co-drivers Chris Goodwin and Alexander West scooped the class title after coming in tied on points with Sky-Tempesta Racing’s Chris Froggatt, Jonathan Hui and Eddie Cheever III who finished third behind Barwell.
Victory in the two-car Am Cup class went to CMR’s No. 108 Bentley Continental GT3 driven by Philippe Chatelet, Stephane Tribaudini and Nicolas Misslin.
Thus concludes what has proved to be a challenging but entertaining GT World Challenge Europe season. Below is a round of the titles that were decided after the finale and we look forward to what will hopefully be a more traditional GT World Challenge season. Credit goes to the organisers SRO and everyone at the circuits to make sure we had a racing season in a difficult period for everyone. Congratulations also goes to all the teams and drivers for producing a great show in such a short space of time.