Tom Blomqvist delivered a stunning victory with the AF Corse team at Circuit Paul Ricard, with the #51 team winning the 1000km GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup season finale by 1.6 seconds.
Teaming up with Alessandro Pier Guidi and Côme Ledogar for the event, Tom joined the team to drive the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 having worked with the Italian marque earlier in the year following his appearances at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Spa 24 Hours.
A solid showing from the team during Free Practice and Pre-Qualifying, in which Tom was the fastest driver in the car in both sessions, placed them in the top ten during both sessions and set them up nicely for a strong qualifying result.
After quickly getting up to speed in the #51 Ferrari, Tom ran the car in the second of the three qualifying sessions on Saturday afternoon where an excellent lap time of 1:53.709 placed him second-fastest on the timing sheets, the highest of the AF Corse drivers across their respective groups.
Tom’s strong efforts combined with times from Pier Guidi and Ledogar meant the team would ultimately line up from second place on the grid - giving the trio a shot at overall victory on Sunday.
Geared up to take the start of the six-hour race, an excellent getaway allowed Tom to propel the car around the outside of the pole-sitting #72 SMP Racing Ferrari through turn one and into the lead of the race.
Settled in, Tom held firm at the front of the field but was powerless to stop the charging #163 Emil Frey Lamborghini from taking the lead. He remained in the cockpit after the squad’s first pitstop of the day with a strong opening stint allowing the 26-year-old to re-emerge in ninth place.
With strategies beginning to play out, Tom was able to hand the car over to Ledogar in sixth place and in strong contention for the win.
As the race reached the halfway mark, rain began to fall on certain parts of the track. With the track still not wet enough to necessitate a tyre change and despite several cars spinning off, Ledogar stayed out on track to complete a double stint before handing over to Pier Guidi on lap 123.
With the team running in second place, Pier Guidi set about chasing down Jaminet in the Porsche ahead. As night descended on the French circuit, Pier Guidi pitted on lap 158 where a strategic gamble by the team to replace only the two left tyres on the Ferrari paid off handsomely. Rejoining the race ahead of Jaminet, Pier Guidi pushed on to extend his advantage and the team crossed the line to win the race by 1.6 seconds.
Tom’s impressive performance placed the team in the perfect position to help them win the Endurance Cup Pro championship.
“The race went off without any problems. I made a really good start and was able to jump the #72 and take the lead. We thought it would be more difficult from there as things didn’t go very well for us in the first two hours, but we managed to stay in contention for the rest of the time and Alessandro worked a real miracle during his stint. The finale was really intense but the victory came in the end. Congratulations to Alessandro and the team for the Endurance title.”
Image courtesy of Ferrari Races.