Calado says GTE tyre blistering was ‘unavoidable’ en route to birthday victory

James Calado, #51 AF Corse, described the tyre blistering issues in GTE as “unavoidable” en route to a dominant GTE-Pro win in Portimao.

One of the predominant factors during the 8 Hours of Portimao was the prevalent tyre blistering issues that all four GTE-Pro cars were experiencing throughout.

James Calado, who was turning 32 years old on race day, said in a post-race press conference:

“It was tough out there. I think all the GT [cars] suffered with blistering.

“With the temperatures, it was unavoidable. So we even tried to cool the tyres down. We couldn’t.”

The ambient temperatures were around 25 degrees Celsius whilst the track temperatures reached almost 50 degrees Celsius at the Algarve International Circuit.

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“So it was a big drop in performance and obviously, a risk of tyre failures, so we had to really manage it well. However, the team did a great job with the strategy.”

Teammate Alessandro Pier Guidi spent his final stints heavily fuel-saving after a safety car and Full-Course-Yellow changed up the strategy and was keen not to perform a splash-and-dash pit stop.

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“We weren’t the quickest car on track,” Calado admitted with Kevin Estre being the notable pace-setter in the #92 pole position car.

“The Porsche was still better on pace, but the team made it happen. And here we’ve got 1-2 (class finish) so quite surprised considering we struggled all weekend to get a good balance of the car, but it’s good to get the win.

“And obviously [on] my birthday, it’s even better so I’ve not drunk anything since January. So I’m gonna have a beer tonight,” he joked.

The next round in Monza will be the team’s first home WEC race as they seek to repeat another 1-2 GTE-Pro finish during what will be a six-hour race.