Ferrari head to 1000 Miles Sebring in two months with reigning champions Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado chasing a third world title in the LMGTE Pro Class, in the number 51 488 GTE.
The #51 Ferrari 488 GTE speeds past the grandstand of the La Sarthe circuit during the 24 Hours of Le Mans
This is the last year for the GTE Pro category in the World Endurance Championships and the two drivers will end an incredible five-year partnership when it concludes.
In the number 52 car, young Italian driver Antonio Fuoco joins Miguel Molina from the AM ranks to help Ferrari in their bid to claim their seventh Pro Class manufacturer’s title.
It's a fast paced life that pushes the cars, drivers and teams behind the scenes to the very limits
But while all eyes are fixed firmly on the opening round of the tenth season of the FIA World Endurance Championship, there’s no denying that the season of 2021 was one for the ages.
Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado reprised their title of four years before with a run to three victories across the six races, including their second triumph together at Le Mans in August. The stalwarts’ victory at the French enduro, where they were joined by Frenchman Côme Ledogar, fittingly came in a race flagged off at the start by Ferrari Executive Chairman, John Elkann.
Victories and celebrations for mechanics and drivers of AF Corse's Car 51; the Iron Lynx Team secure third place in class LMGTE AM at the French motor marathon; The AM's Car 83 team celebrating triumph in the World Endurance Championship
A double-points win at Le Mans was the cornerstone of Pier Guidi and Calado’s season, returning them to the lead of the championship in a fierce battle with Porsche duo Kévin Estre and Neel Jani. The number 51 Ferrari established itself in the class lead of the 24 Hours in the 11th hour and was never headed thereafter on the way to a 40-second victory over the chasing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R.
Pier Guidi and Calado had a 12-point lead heading into the final two races of the re-arranged season in Bahrain. A draconian change in the Balance of Performance, the means by which the organisers try to create a level playing field across the GTE field, stymied their chances in the first, six-hour race at the home of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The Ferrari team work at high speed during a pit stop during the 24 Hours of Le Mans
Third place for the Ferrari pairing in the opening Bahrain race and then pole position for the Porsche at the eight-hour finale brought the two championship-chasing crews level on points. Pier Guidi eventually crossed the line in first position to take the drivers’ crown with Calado and secure the manufacturers’ title for Ferrari.
There was a double celebration for Ferrari after the finish in Bahrain. It also sealed the GTE Am drivers’ and teams’ crowns. French gentleman racer François Perrodo and factory driver Nicklas Nielsen retained the class title they had won in 2019/20, this time driving with WEC newcomer Alessio Rovera in an AF Corse-run 488 GTE. It was also a third GTE Am crown for Perrodo after his 2016 triumph, also with Ferrari and AF Corse.
The result capped a dominant season for Ferrari in the Am ranks of the WEC. Perrodo and his teammates won four of the six races, including Le Mans. The Cetilar Racing crew of Roberto Lacorte, Giorgio Sernagiotto and Antonio Fuoco, a development driver with the Ferrari Formula 1 team, won once on the way to fifth in the points in their debut season in the GTE ranks.
That meant that Ferrari took a total of seven victories and all four titles that were up for grabs by GT machinery in what will be a year remembered by fans of the marque for many reasons