The Yas Marina GP Circuit is 5.55 km long. Going around it just twice is an accomplishment for me during car launches. Keeping at it relentlessly for 12 hours is a test of patience, alertness and unfaltering skill. It is a celebration of endurance that happened for the third time last Friday.
The first half of the 12 hour race was over by around 3.30, and the Ferrari AF Corse was in the lead with Mercedes Black Falcon Racing following closely and the Bentley of M Motors completing the top three. A safety car intervention during the first six-hour stage allowed reigning 12-Hour champs AF Corse to take advantage of a pit stop before their rivals and drivers Steve Wyatt, Michele Rugolo and Marco Cioci clinched the first half from Black Falcon by 58 seconds.
Making a comeback into the racing scene after several years, Bentley was going great and kudos was in order. Before leaving, I didn’t forget t congratulate a Bentley team member.
It was later that news reached me that Bentley after all had finished fourth, falling to the aggressive second half performance by the Ferrari of Kessel Racing. Nevertheless, a grand return for the big car that stood out in the racing line up.
The Gulf 12-Hours endurance classic was a new chapter in the year’s successive endurance race victories for Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon Racing. The team had won 24-hour races at the Nürburgring and Spa, as well as a 12-Hour race in Australia. Winning in Abu Dhabi by just one lap after completing 308 laps, the team’s drivers Jeroen Bleekemolen, Bernd Schneider and Khaled Al Qubaisi had earlier acquired pole position and maintained their lead for the most part. The reigning champions AF Corse attempted to recreate their wins in 2011 and 2012 but an electrical issue in the final stint combined with a slow puncture early in Race Part 2 stopped them just short of it.
The race-long tussle between the Bentley and the Kessel Racing Ferrari saw the revival of Bentley’s spirits in the big GT3 as a stunning performance by team drivers Guy Smith, Steven Kane and Andy Meyrick saw them finishing fourth though they couldn’t make it to the podium. The Kessel Racing Ferrari 458 GT3 was piloted by Daniel Zampieri, Michael Broniszewski and Cesar Ramos to the third podium stance by almost a lap ahead of the Bentley.
Pictures: Sudeep Koshy