The GTE Am battle had everything in the 89th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours: Incidents, on-track battles, strategy gambles, comeback drives and a historic result.
AF Corse’s No. 83 crew of Francois Perrodo, Nicklas Nielsen and Alessio Rovera made it a double win for Ferrari and AF Corse with their win here, crossing the line almost two minutes clear of the other runners in the hotly contested category.
The most remarkable statistic to emerge from this class, is that the victory for the No. 83 marks the first for AF Corse in GTE Am. After years of coming close, Amato Ferrari’s team have done it, and in fine fashion too.
All three drivers played their part in this, a brief spin early on the only notable error caught on camera over the course of the race.
AF Corse celebrate first LMGTE Am success as No.83 AF Corse of Francois Perrodo, @_Nicklasnielsen and Alessio Rovera to take over title points lead in 2021 FIA #WEC standings.#LeMans24 @FerrariRaces @AFCorse pic.twitter.com/zwea8WO2gu
— WEC (@FIAWEC) August 22, 2021
“It’s well deserved for AF, a great result,” former WEC GTE Am champion Perrodo said. “This was my second year with Nicklas — he’s flying at the moment and did a great job; not only is he quick but he’s also a really nice guy. Both the guys did an amazing job during the night when over a third of the cars dropped out. We had a clean race with no big mistakes and it’s also really good for our championship.”
GTE Am mirrored LMP2 in many ways, with so many contending cars hitting trouble. It is only fitting that the car which made no real errors took the win.
TF Sport came closest to denying AF Corse a win in both categories. Tom Ferrier’s No. 33 Aston Martin Vantage had the pace to win, but a puncture during the night hours that damaged the car’s rear end, and a misfire late in the race were the deciding factors in the plucky British team’s heroic push for the win.
After the rear puncture and diffuser change, a combination of Le Mans rookie Dylan Pereria and Ben Keating dragged the car back into contention, reeling in Perrodo, taking the lead late in the race before the misfire. It looked for a short period like TF was in position to pull off a monumental comeback win, but the misfired forced Keating to pit early in his final stint and therefore drive for longer than his minimum drive time. With Bronze-rated Keating in the car and Rovera installed late on, crucial time was lost and Felipe Fraga eventually settled for second.
“It was an emotional win for sure, and in my first ever Le Mans,” Rovers said. “The mechanics were excellent in delivering this result and the strategy was perfect in hard conditions. I’m really very happy, the Aston was very fast, particularly Ben Keating and they made us work hard for this.”
— 24 Hours of Le Mans (@24hoursoflemans) August 22, 2021
Third in the running was the No. 80 Iron Lynx Ferrari, which spent most of this race in and around the podium places. Matteo Cressoni, Rino Mastronardi and Callum Ilott kept it clean and finished on the lead lap, but were unable to match the No. 83 crew on pace.
Completing the top five was the No. 60 Iron Lynx Ferrari and the best of the Dempsey Proton Porsche’s, the No. 77 that didn’t look quite up to the task of winning the race at any point after the flag fell on Saturday afternoon.
There were incidents aplenty up and down the class. Most notably, the No. 98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage, one of the class favorites, became the race’s first retirement when Marcos Gomes had a big off at Indianapolis during the fourth hour, ending veteran Canadian Paul Dalla Lana’s hopes of a maiden Le Mans win yet again. He will have to wait another year…
Team Project 1 also failed to make the finish with either of its Porsches. The No. 56 had the more dramatic exit of the two, Egidio Perfetti hitting the barriers hard at the first Mulsanne Chiane right in front of the No. 33 TF Sport Aston that followed it into the tires with its puncture.
That’s it for the Le Mans 24 Hours. The FIA WEC teams on the entry now look ahead to a trip to Bahrain for a doubleheader to finish the season at the end of October.