After coming close to winning Race 1 yesterday, Turkey emerged victorious in the second and final FIA GT Nations Cup Qualifying Race in Bahrain this afternoon.
The Turkey Mercedes, which started the race from third, quickly moved up to the lead at the start in the confusion at Turn 1.
From there it was a relatively comfortable win, Ayhancan Guven and Salih Yoluc holding off the team France Mercedes and later the United Kingdom Ferrari en route to victory, which in turn secured pole position for the Main Race later today.
“We are happy with the result, it was comfortable for me, all I had to do was cruise home,” said Yoluc.
The race saw two cars in contention for the win fall by the wayside.
The first was Belgium, the WRT-run Audi which won Race 1 yesterday and started from pole spun round at Turn 1, dropping to the back.
In a similar fashion to Chris Buncombe’s drive in last night’s encounter, Charles Weerts attempted to drive through the field to salvage a strong result. But his efforts to claw his way back into the top 10 before the stops came to nothing, when a right-rear puncture in the second half of the race put an end to the team’s challenge.
France was the other car that looked good for at least a podium. Jim Pla started the race in the AKKA-run Mercedes, and held second until the stops.
Jean-Luc Beaubelique then attempted to try and take the win late in the race after a safety car period caused by debris on track from the Belgium puncture. The Frenchman spun the AMG GT3 though after the restart, and dropped out of the top 10, eventually finishing 14th.
“The first stint was good, the pace was there. The goal was to score points, but after the safety car we had a spin and that was it,” Pla explained. “It’s a shame because we were looking good for the final.”
These dramas left two spots on the podium for others to take. United Kingdom took second, Chris Buncombe once again the class of the field during his stint in the second half of the race, driving from ninth to second, crossing the line just 1.9 seconds back from Yoluc.
“Frustratingly we lost a lot of time in the stop, the pedal box got stuck, so we lost time fiddling for that,” Buncombe revealed after the race.
“At least I could still get full throttle. I love the car though and it was great to fight through the field.”
With a second place finish today and a fourth yesterday, the UK Ferrari will start on the front row alongside Turkey in the main race.
The Germany Ferrari took third, after a battle with the Russian Ferrari that finished fourth.
Completing the top five was the Argentina Lamborghini of Jose Manuel Balbiani and Ezeuiel Perez Companc, which finished ahead of a three-way scrap for sixth between Mexico (Ferrari of Martin Fuentes), Hong Kong (Nissan of Alex Au) and Denmark (Ferrari of Nicklas Nielsen).
The aformentioned order was eventually their finishing positions, sixth, seventh and eighth.
The Italian flagged Ferrari retired from a strong running position afte spinning and burning out the clutch!
The full grid for the Main Race (decided by a combined points tally from both Qualifying Races) later today at 19:30 local time is as follows: