Abu Dhabi: Top Italian motorsport team AF Corse scored their second successive victory in the Gulf 12 Hours event held at the spectacular Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
After winning the inaugural race held at Yas Marina Circuit earlier this year by just 2.6 seconds, AF Corse had things a little easier this time around on Friday as former Minardi F1 driver Gianmaria ‘Gimmi’ Bruni, Finn Toni Vilander and Venezuelan Gaetano Ardagna took their Ferrari 458 to a 25-second victory over the AF Waltrip 458 driven by Ryan Dalziel, Pierre Kaffer and Alex Popow after 309 laps of the challenging and varied Hermann Tilke-designed circuit.
Taking second place in the GTX category was team Yas Marina Circuit. The all-Emirati team, consisting of Saeed Al Mehairi, Shaikh Hasher Al Maktoum and Abbas Al Alawi competed in the 12 hours in Yas’ own Aston Marin GT4.
Driver Al Mehairi said: “While it’s not first place, we are more than pleased with the result — it was a true team effort. Although the Gulf 12 Hours just ended, we’re already looking forward to the next one.”
The third podium place was taken by the Autorlando Porsche of the Dutch Bleekemolen brothers, Jeroen and Sabastiaan, and Venezuelan Emilio Di Guida. Autolardo’s Jeroen Bleekemolen managed some heroic stints early in the day as the team tried to make up for a 60-second stop/go penalty for exceeding the maximum 75 minute stint length at the very start of the race. The team was set for a strong recovery in the last 90 minutes of the race, but the younger Bleekemolen felt ill for the final portion, cutting short his chase of the AF Waltrip car.
Fourth place fell to the Italian-American AF Waltrip’s team of Muarizio Mediani, Michele Rugolo and Steve Wyatt. Meanwhile, in fifth place overall and winner of the SC sportscar Class, just four laps down, was the Avelon Formula team of Ivan Bellarosa, 16-year-old Alessandro Latif and Emirati driver Juma Ali Al Daheri. The team’s Wolf GB08 was particularly rapid in Bellarosa’s hands, as he chased down down and passed the sixth-place Kessel Racing Ferrari of Philipp Peter, Daniel Zampieri and Michael Broniszewski in the final stint of the race.
Kessel, narrowly beaten in the inaugural event, were unlucky once more. A good strategy under a first half Safety Car established the Swiss Ferrari 458 in front, but a delay when the front bodywork came loose in the second half of the race, cost the team dear.
GTX class honours seemed firmly in the hands of the Ebimotors Porsche, but a major gearbox issue threw them out of contention. The Nova Race Ginetta G50 driven by Roberto Rainieri, Luca Magnoni, Luis Scarpaccio and Matteo Cressoni claimed victory after a strong and consistent performance that allowed them to finish ahead of the Yas Marina Circuit team’s Aston Martin and the Barwell Motorsport V8 Vantage.