Picture © JEP/ ELMS
LM GTE - 17/11/2019 - Jeff CARTER
2017 FIA World Endurance GT Champion Alessandro Pier Guidi, Sweden’s Nicklas Nielsen and French driver Fabien Lavergne won four out of the six races in the n°51 Ferrari F488 GTE EVO, with one third place and one fourth place finishes to end the season on 127 points, a dominant 51 points ahead of the Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche of Christian Ried, Matteo Cairoli and Riccardo Pera.
The season got off to a good start at the 4 Hours of Le Castellet. Matteo Cairoli scored the first point of the season by claiming pole in the no77 Porsche, finishing the session 0.2 seconds ahead of the Luzich Racing Ferrari driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi. In the race, Fabien Lavergne took the lead on the opening lap. There was a scare for Lavergne when an LMP2 car clipped the Ferrari as he was lapped. There was slight bodywork damage to Lavergne’s car but the French driver continued to lead the class. Alessandro Pier Guidi finished one lap ahead of the rest of the LMGTE field to score the Swiss team’s first ELMS victory on their championship debut.
Another strong performance at the 4 Hours of Monza saw the team score another podium finish. The weekend didn’t start well when the no51 Ferrari qualified in 6th place of the grid. But in the race, Fabien Lavergne started to move up the field and briefly held the lead from the pole sitting no77 Porsche of Christian Ried when the German spun. As the race progressed the Luzich Racing Ferrari kept pace with the leaders and eventually finished third behind the winning Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche and the no66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari.
Barcelona saw the no51 Luzich Racing Ferrari take a dominant class victory from third on the grid, with Alessandro Pier Guidi crossing the line 41 seconds ahead of the no66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari and, more notably, ahead of all the LMP3 competitors bar the no13 Inter Europol Competition Ligier that finished one place ahead of the Ferrari.
At Silverstone the team finished off the podium for the only time in the 2019 season. While victory for the UK round of the series went to the no88 Proton Competition Porsche, the no51 Luzich Ferrari could only gather 12 points for 4th place, there was a silver lining for the championship leaders when the no77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche was only classified in seventh place, 16 laps down.
At the 4 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, Luzich Racing held a 21-point advantage over Dempsey-Proton Racing and the Swiss team had the possibility to wrap up the championship with one race remaining. Matteo Cairoli clawed back one point when the Italian scored another pole position for the German team, 0.383 seconds ahead of the no51 Ferrari after Alessandro Pier Guidi put the car on the front row alongside their rivals.
Lavergne took the lead at the start of the race but had to defend his position for most of his stint. This set the tone for the entire four-hour race and at the chequered flag Alessandro Pier Guidi crossed the line to secure the team’s third victory of the season just 2.7 seconds ahead of Riccardo Pera in the no77 Porsche. The 25 points for the win in Belgium gave Fabien Lavergne, Nicklas Nielsen and Alessandro Pier Guidi an unassailable lead and secured them and Luzich Racing the 2019 ELMS title.
With the pressure off the team headed to Portugal to finish off their 2019 season in style with a win at the 4 Hours of Portimão. From fourth on the grid the no51 Ferrari made progress up the field to win the race by 50 seconds. The no77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche of Christian Ried was an innocent victim of a seven-car crash on the opening lap that destroyed the rear of the Porsche and brought out the red flag. When the race resumed the no51 Ferrari moved ahead of the no60 Kessel Racing Ferrari to take the fourth victory of the year.
The championship victory for Luzich Racing marks the fifth win for Ferrari since 2013, with Ram Racing in 2013, SMP Racing in 2014, Formula Racing in 2015, JMW Motorsport in 2017 and now Luzich Racing. The Swiss team receive an automatic invitation to the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans, along with the 2019 Vice Champions Dempsey-Proton Racing, who finished the season two points ahead of JMW Motorsport.
CLICK HERE for the 2019 LMGTE Championship positions
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