Italian racing team Iron Lynx brought two Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 cars to Belgium for the legendary TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa – and their destinies could not have been more different.
After a challenging qualifying session on Thursday, both cars progressed to the Friday Super Pole session and it was Alessandro Pier Guidi and Davide Rigon who placed their cars 18th and 13th respectively on the grid.
The start of the 24-hour race was marred by a frightening accident in the opening laps which involved four cars, including Davide Rigon in the #71 Iron Lynx. Davide was taken to hospital for precautionary checks and mercifully returned to the paddock a few hours later. The car, due to be co-driven by Callum Ilott and Antonio Fuoco, was eliminated from the race, and all focus turned to the team’s sole remaining entry.
When the race resumed, Alessandro Pier Guidi made his opening stint count, elevating the Ferrari from its starting slot of 18th to fourth. Handing over to Come Ledogar and then Nicklas Nielsen into the evening, after four hours the Iron Lynx car was placed fourth, and in Pier Guidi’s second stint, he battled the car into first place, which it held to claim the points awarded at the crucial six-hour stage.
Safety car periods and a penalty dropped the car to sixth place in hour nine, but again the car rose up the standings in the following hours, hitting second place and challenging once again for the lead two hours later – assuming first place thanks to a faster pit stop with thirteen hours to run.
The team continued to earn maximum championship points by leading at halfway by twelve seconds, taking the lead of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup as Pier Guidi, Côme Ledogar and Nicklas Nielsen double-stinted through the night and raced into dawn with a slender lead of less than a minute.
Into the final stages of the race, Iron Lynx came under sustained pressure from the chasing WRT Audi which was within half a second at times. In the final hour, heavy rain began and a gamble on tyres suddenly relegated the Iron Lynx car to second under a safety car. With 27 minutes to go, Alessandro Pier Guidi took up an audacious pursuit of the leader, the Ferrari visibly committed to an all-or-nothing finish to the race. With ten minutes to go, he executed a stunning overtake through Blanchimont – described by John Watson as “the pass of the decade” sensationally to reclaim the lead of the 24 Hours of Spa and pull four seconds ahead by the flag – a breathless and memorable way to secure Ferrari’s first win at this race since 2004.
Iron Lynx team principal, Giacomo Piccini, reacted: “Spa was my favourite track before we came here, and now it definitely is. To win here at our first attempt with the team is absolutely amazing and it was achieved through the hard work and dedication not just of our three drivers, but of all the team who contributed to every millisecond of advantage to make the difference in 24 hours.” He continued: “I must pay tribute to the safety and medical workers here at Spa who helped Davide and the other drivers after their accident, and to our great competitors at WRT, who made our victory even more valuable by making us fight so hard for it. Alessandro’s determined drive, especially in the final minutes of the race to snatch the lead back, was truly inspiring!”
Iron Lynx returns to the track in three weeks for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with a three-car attack including the all-female Iron Dames squad. After this victory at Spa, many eyes will be on the Italian squad as they challenge once again for 24-Hour glory.