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HTP Mercedes Tops Qualifying For Gulf 12 Hours

Rossi puts Kessel seventh on the grid

HTP Motorsport will start on pole for tomorrow’s Gulf 12 Hours, courtesy of a 2:09.066 average lap time from the GT3 PRO-entered #48 Mercedes’ three drivers, Maximilian Goetz, Dominik Baumann and Al Zubair Al Faisal.

Elsewhere, MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi helped push his Kessel-run Ferrari to seventh on the grid.

Of the three drivers in the pole-sitting #48 HTP car, it was Goetz who was quickest, securing the team’s starting position with a 2:08.624 in the third and final qualifying session. Barwell Motorsport’s PRO-AM class #77 Lamborghini will line up on the other side of the front row, with a 2:09.285 for the trio of Jordan Witt, Miguel Ramos and Patrick Kujala, who will be joined by Adrian Amstutz in tomorrow’s race.

The #66 Attempto Audi of Rinat Salikhov, Christopher Mies and Dries Vanthoor will line-up third, courtesy of a 2:09.446 average, ahead of the #83 Iron Lynx Ferrari. Michele Gatting was the fastest of the all-female crew in the 488 GT3, contributing a 2:09.050 to lower the team’s average to a 2:09.999.

The third row will be occupied by the #55 Attempto Audi and the #19 GPX Racing Porsche, while all eyes will be trained on the seventh slot on the grid, filled by the Monster VR46 Kessel entry of Valentino Rossi and his compatriots Luca Marini and Alessio Salucci. Rossi was the fastest of the trio by almost two seconds, despite losing his first flying lap due to track limits violations at turn 5, and helped the team to second among the GT3 PRO-AM runners.

Starting alongside ‘The Doctor’ and his team will be the fastest of the Cup 1 runners, the #12 Art Line Team Georgia Lamborghini Super Trofeo.

Elsewhere, the #10 SPS Automotive Mercedes was the fastest entry in the GT3 AM class, setting a time good enough for 12th overall. Just two LMP3 cars are present in Abu Dhabi, and the #2 United Autosports Ligier will line up 16th overall, just ahead of the #4 ARC Bratislava Ginetta.

GT4 looks set to be a close-run category, with #90 SVC Sport Management Mercedes eventually securing pole position with an average lap time of 2:22.869. This was just a tenth quicker than the #22 Balfe Motorsport McLaren 570S, while the #44 Generation AMR Aston Martin netted third, largely thanks to a very impressive final run from Matthew George that lowered the average time significantly.

The Gulf 12 Hours begins at 09:30 local time on Saturday morning.