Renault R.S. 01 and Ginetta LMP3 cars are set to take part in this year’s Gulf 12 Hours race in Abu Dhabi on 10-11 December.
Race promoter Andrea Ficarelli confirmed to DSC that the French manufacturer has guaranteed at least four of the single-make racers (which have their own championship, pictured above) for the event, running in their own class. The race organisers also have ‘five or six’ teams running Ginetta LMP3s (below) interested in taking part.
The R.S. 01s will run with a kit from Renaultsport to peg back their performance below the level of a GT3 car, ensuring they won’t be in contention for overall victory. The LMP3s will also be balanced to keep them behind the GT3s. Discussions are also ongoing about the inclusion of CN-class cars such as the Wolf, a regular feature of past editions of the race. “We’re focused on structuring the classes to offer a good platform for everyone,” said Ficarelli.
Entry forms for the 2015 Gulf 12 Hours go out today, but a number of cars are already being counted on, primarily those that have entered in previous years. Earlier plans for a separate race for prototype-style cars will not come to fruition for 2015, primarily due to the cancellation of the planned Radical world final that would have seen numerous potential entries already on-site – but Ficarelli says it remains an option for future years.
It’s also expected that some Lamborghini Super Trofeo cars will enter, although the majority of chassis have to be in Sebring two weeks beforehand for the Super Trofeo World Final. These cars will not run in a separate class, but in the main GT3 field with appropriate Balance of Performance from Lamborghini.
There is also the possibility of Porsche Cup cars entering in their own class, as well as Maserati Super Trofeo machinery converted to GT4 specification entering the race’s ‘GTX’ class (which was scrapped in 2014 due to a lack of garage space).
Ficarelli is expecting a total grid north of 30 cars for the 2015 edition, with 12 Ferraris already confirmed from three teams. He says the date clash with the SRO-run Sepang 12 Hours hasn’t had a major impact on the Gulf event. “We lost the two Bentleys to Sepang, but our race is still growing strongly,” he said. “We may have grown a little more this year if it wasn’t for the clash, but it hasn’t had a negative effect.”
Ficarelli is confident that the Gulf 12 Hours offers a more attractive package, in terms of the hospitality facilities on offer, the the weather and the size of the local supercar market. “I’m not worried if this clash continues next year, but we could always move if it seems like it’s becoming a problem.”
The proposed 12-hour race at Istanbul, originally scheduled for August and then put back to October, will not go ahead this year. “We’ve learned a lot from the process and so have the circuit,” said Ficarelli. “Various factors meant entries were becoming too expensive, so we decided to halt preparations. We’ll try again in 2016.” Ficarelli definitely ruled out expanding his events into a championship, saying his focus was on one-off races.
Containers transporting cars to the 2015 Gulf 12 Hours will leave Genoa in Italy, Rotterdam in the Netherlands and a UK port (likely Felixstowe or Southampton) in the first week of November.