An outstanding pass from Alessandro Pier Guidi for the lead as the race came into its final 10 minutes gave Iron Lynx their first major endurance race win, gave Ferrari their first overall Sp 24 Hours win since 2004 and broke Audi hearts after great strategy and local knowledge put the #32 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo to the lead after the final pit stops.
The #51 Ferrari crew with Pier Guidi joined by Nicklas Nielsen and Come Ledogar had dominated proceedings for the majority of the race but faltered in the final hour, pitting for fuel and slick tyres as the skies darkened, the WRT Audi, which started from the back of the grid, pitted on the following lap and took wets.
That proved to be an inspired choice as the rain came with a vengeance, multiple cars aquaplaning off, Full Course yellow called as Iron Lynx were forced to pit again for wets, losing the lead to Dries Vanthoor who shared the #32 with Charles Weerts and Kelvin van der Linde.
The field were bunched up for the restart under the Safety Car but with only four cars between the two leading cars in streaming wet conditions.
Pier Guidi was straight onto the task ahead from the moment the race went back to green – immediately taking time out of the Audi and completing the run back to the front with a spellbinding pass around the outside at Blanchimont.
— TotalEnergies 24Hours of Spa (@24HoursofSpa) August 1, 2021
The #95 Garage 59 Aston Martin finished on the lead lap to complete the overall podium with Nicki Thiim, Marco Sorensen and Ross Gunn.
The #90 MadPanda AMG finished 11th overall to win the Silver Cup with Ezequiel Perez Companc, Ricardo Sanchez, Patrick Kujala and Rik Breukers ahead of the #7 Toksport WRT Mercedes finishing second having started from the pit lane with last minute replacement driver Axcil Jeffries joining Oscar Tunjo, Paul Petit and Marvin Dienst.
Garage 59 meanwhile scored another podium, third in Silver Cup too with their #159 team of Tuomas Tujula, Alex MacDowall, Valentin Hasse Clot and Nicolai Kjaergaard
The #53 AF Corse Ferrari gave more reasons to smile for the marque taking the Pro-Am class win, 16th overall for Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin, Reno Mastronardi and Miguel Molina.
The sister #52 Ferrari would finish second in the class for Louis Machiels, John Wartique, Andrea Bertolini and Alessio Rovera with Barwell Motorsport making it another Spa 24 podium result for their #77 Lamborghini – Miguel Ramos, Leo Machitski, Henrique Chaves and Sandy Mitchell.
The #166 Haegeli by T2 Racing Porsche would take the 2 car Am class win.
Alessandro Pier Guidi, #51 Iron Lynx Ferrari: “I have tried many times to win this race, and after two second places overall and two wins in the Pro-Am Cup, I am very happy to take this overall victory. We led the race for most of the time, but in the last half hour everything looked lost. After the restart I decided to give everything – I had no choice. Maybe it was not the easiest overtake on Dries, but he made a small mistake exiting Stavelot and I managed to get alongside. I don’t know why, but I felt I had to go for it and it worked. This is an incredible feeling and it will take a bit of time to understand what we did.”
Dries Vanthoor, #32 Audi Sport Team WRT: “Before my last pit stop I reported there was a large dark cloud coming towards the circuit, and the team immediately decided to go for wets. That was a very good call. But when the lights went to green, I immediately felt that I did not have all the grip that I would have liked. I was not surprised when the team told me the Ferrari was catching me. I tried everything I could, but when he got alongside I tried to play it fair and we did not touch. They were quick anyway, both in the dry and the wet.”
Ezequiel Perez Companc, #90 Madpanda Motorsport Mercedes-AMG: “I had fun all week! This is the main aim of Madpanda: we are a ‘pandemic’ team and we try to bring joy to people who are having a hard time. We worked really hard for this result, and since we are new there were not many people that believed in us. I am really proud now, and would like to thank every member of the team.”
Duncan Cameron, #53 AF Corse Ferrari: “What a nailbiter! I was in my RV when I heard the rain come down on the roof and I was glad I wasn’t in the car! We had a great strategy and the whole team did a perfect job. Amazing.”
Manuel Lauck, #166 Hägeli by T2 Racing Porsche: “This team was only created at the beginning of the year, and of course we lacked some experience. We lost one hour because we had to repair the steering rack, but when we saw the other Porsche had crashed we were determined to finish the race. In the end we won, and I’m quite happy with that.”