Kessel Racing powered to victory in the the 2018 running of the Gulf 12 Hours today, after a late drama cost McLaren a dream result for the 720S GT3 on its competitive debut. The winning car in the end was the #11 Kessel 488 GT3 of Davide Rigon, Michael Broniszewski and Alessandro Pier Guidi.
The McLaren Customer Racing-run #5 720S GT3 dominated the majority of the second half of the race after Shane Van Gisbergen pounced on Christopher Haase on the second racing lap after the restart down the back straight.
But, a right-front suspension failure robbed the Woking-based marque of a win on the car’s debut with just under two hours to go. At the time the #5 held a lead of over two minutes, before van Gisbergen was forced to bring the car in for repairs.
In the end the car lost 13 minutes in the pits and five laps, before Ben Barnicoat went on to finish fifth in GT3 Pro and eighth overall. The result was still an impressive result though, book-ending a strong weekend for the car.
This drama left the door open for Kessel Racing and Car Collection Motorsport to battle it out for the victory until the end. It came down to a chase for the win, between Davide Rigon in the #11 Ferrari and Markus Winkelhock in the #88 2019-spec Audi, which finished Part 1 in the lead.
Winkelhock though, couldn’t reel in Rigon though and finished up 27 seconds behind at the end. This meant that Rigon and the Kessel Racing crew scored their fourth Gulf 12 Hours win in a row, a remarkable achievement, which denied Audi a big win for its new R8.
The #44 Attempto Racing Audi of Sean Walkinshaw, Giorgio Roda and Clemens Schmid completed the overall podium, which finished fifth in Part 1. The crew finished just ahead of the #97 Oman Racing by TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage which spent much of the race fighting back after losing a lap in Part 1.
The Oman crew came just 32 seconds seconds short of a podium for the new Vantage GT3 after Darren Turner gave his all in the final run to the flag to catch Walkinshaw.
The #27 Daiko Lazarus Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Miguel Ramos, Nicola De Marco and Fabio Onidi completed the top five, and in the process took a comfortable GT3 Pro Am class win over the #98 Beechdean AMR Aston and #55 Attempto Racing Audi.
Further down the order, the best of the LMP3 runners ended up finishing ninth overall, the #4 GRAFF Norma M30 of James Winslow, Neale Muston and Jake Parsons winning the class comfortably, by five laps over the #7 Scuderia Villorba Corse and #70 GRAFF Ligiers.
The GT4 class top runners also finished spread out, the #3 Bullitt Racing Mecedes of Ian Loggie, Oleg Kharuk and Olli Caldwell completing 283 tours of the circuit en route to victory, crossing the line a lap ahead of the #50 Scuderia Villorba Corse Maserati and nine laps clear of the Italian team’s #90 sister car.
Aston Martin Racing’s Vantage GT4, driven in the race by Thomas Canning, Mark Farmer, Oliver Wilkinson and Adrian Willmott, did finish after its dramas in Part 1, the car coming home fourth in GT4 after 239 laps.
The #87 GDL Racing Porsche won the GT Cup class.