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Gulf 12 Hours: Yas Marina, Friday Paddock Notes

Gulf Racing Planning Ahead

Roald Goethe and Stuart Hall will be back in the FIA WEC (Selection Committee willing!) in an LMGTE AM Aston Martin with the Gulf Racing AMR squad.

The missing ink in the chain, as with so many efforts now, is the third, Silver rated driver.

The team’s Porsche effort meanwhile is likely to continue in the ELMS, Mike Wainwright unable to justify the additional time away from work that the WEC entails. Expect though to see an additional Gulf Racing entry in another class for the opening ELMS round at Silverstone if plans come to fruition.

Also on the todo list is the potential to look to a future programme for Goethe, with a likely try out in an LMP2 car “to see if I like it”.

BoP And All That

We’ll wait and see whether BoP is adjusted before the race(s) tomorrow with the pace of the #45 Wolf raising some eyebrows.

The race organisers have adjusted the regular FIA Balance of performance for some cars here (the McLaren runs heavier than normal for instance).

The regulations for this race mean that adjustments can be made at any point prior to the race start.

Notable Quotables

Richard Muscat (Black Falcon Mercedes): “It’s a very impressive track, you’ve got fast corners, slow corners and big braking zones. The first three sectors aren’t that technical, but the last sector is good, you really need to keep your speed up around those corners. It definitely gets quicker as it cools down at night, too.”

“It was just confirmed in the last two days that I’ll be doing Carrera Cup Australia in 2015, with the aim of doing the Supercup in 2016. I’m looking at GT opportunities in Australia, Europe and Asia. I want to do more GT in 2015. There’s a possibility of doing some of the V8 Supercars endurance races next year, too, as my sponsor Wilson Security is also involved with the Volvo team, but I don’t want to be locked in to one series, I want get as much experience in different cars as possible.”

Rob Bell (McLaren GT): “This is part of the test plan, but at the same time you always come to a race looking to win. We’ve put 10,000km on this car already. The main focus was driveability, we could make a car five seconds quicker, but Balance of Performance is just going to peg it back. The 12C was already a fast car, so we just wanted to make the 650S better in all situations. We’ve given it a bit more aero and wider front tyres, just to try to make the operating window a bit wider. It’s easier to work on too, where there were 10 bolts before, now there are four and the gearbox life has been doubled.”

Sean Walkinshaw (Dragon Racing): The son of the late, great Tom Walkinshaw is making his GT racing debut this weekend after some time in Formula 3. “It’s different, of course,” he said. “There’s less track time than I’m used to, but I did have some laps in one of the team’s Ferrari Challenge cars on Monday just to learn the layout. It’s a nice track and nice and safe, too, for my first GT race! The car’s awesome. I was surprised by how good the brakes are. You can’t brake quite as late as in a single-seater, of course, but it’s still impressive.”

Tiziani Borghi (Kessel Racing team manager): “We will definitely do Blancpain next year, either Endurance or both Endurance and Sprint, we don’t know. Probably three cars. In January we’ll decide whether we’re doing ELMS or GT Open.”

Frederic Fatien: The Frenchman is racing the Gulf Middle East Lamborghini here as a one-off, but says he has nothing firmed up for 2015 yet. “Gulf Middle East is done, Roald and Mike are doing their own thing in Europe,” he said. Fatien still owns his two Lola LMP2s, one based in France, the other in the Middle East and is looking at doing something with them in 2015, not necessarily in ACO racing, and not necessarily actual racing either! He’ll also do some rounds of the UAE Race Series with Dragon Racing over the winter.

Nico Pronck (McLaren GT): “The only thing I have confirmed so far for 2015 is the GT Open Winter Series at Paul Ricard in February. After that we’ll look at the calendar and see what’s possible. I’m considering Blancpain, ELMS and GT Open depending on what works.”

Liam Venter (STP Racing with Sopp+Sopp): “It’s nice to step into this environment for my first GT race, it’s interesting and fun. I’m working on a few things for 2015, I’m keeping all my options open at the moment.”

Dan Welch (STP Racing with Sopp+Sopp): The Proton BTCC racer was on the entry list as a driver in his team’s Porsche 911 Cup car, but won’t be taking the wheel this weekend. As he explains: “There was a rule in this race that a fourth listed driver could be nominated to go over the barrier and try to repair a stranded car, which I’d be a good candidate for. But they changed it a month ago and now every listed driver has to drive for at least an hour in each six-hour segment of the race, so I won’t be getting in.”

The team has been running selected UK Carrera Cup rounds with the car this season, and aims to take in the Nurburgring 24, Dubai 24 and selected other Creventic enduros in 2015. “We wanted the reliability of the GTC rather than an RSR, which seems to break down every weekend,” added Welch.

Raimondo Amadio (Villorba Corse): “We’re running a relatively new chassis here, it’s only done three or four races. It’s a new programme for us, with gentlemen drivers. Previously we’ve mainly run young professional drivers, so this is an addition to our activities. We plan to do Blancpain Endurance only next year, as well as GT Open.”

Amaido hinted that another programme in another championship would be announced within the next month, but couldn’t say what championship or what car it would involve. Regular Villorba Corse driver Andrea Montermini is also present in Abu Dhabi, doing driver coaching work with Kessel Racing’s Marco Zanuttini, but he assured he will remain a part of Villorba’s plans next year whatever the team does.