Attempto Racing took a commanding lights-to-flag victory in the second segment of the Gulf 12 Hours, with the #66 Audi R8 drivers Christopher Mies, Dries Vanthoor and Rinat Salikhov picking up where they left off to build an advantage over the sister #55 car.
Meanwhile, Valentino Rossi, Luca Marini and Alessio Salucci took PRO-AM victory and the third step of the overall podium in the #46 Monster VR46 Kessel Ferrari.
Going into the second portion of the race, the pair of Attempto entries were the only two cars on the lead lap. This remained the case for much of the race, though Stuart Hall put in a stellar effort to get the #19 GPX Racing Porsche back into contention briefly. However, shortly after the Brit handed the 991 GT3-R to Benji Goethe, the team lost approximately seven minutes courtesy of a severe vibration on the car’s rear axle.
While the #66 trio often had the superior pace over their teammates, the race wasn’t entirely straightforward. A visit to the penalty box had to be observed within the first hour, a legacy of a pitstop infringement in the first six-hour portion of the event. Miraculously, much like their similar penalty in the morning, the Safety Car came out while the car was stationary, minimising the damage to their race.
This time around, the Safety Car was caused by the retirement of the #83 Iron Lynx Ferrari. Michelle Gatting made contact with the #15 Optimum Motorsport Aston Martin GT4, breaking the left rear suspension of the 488 GT3 as a result. This was an unfortunate end to a positive weekend for the all-female crew, who had been upgraded to the PRO class due to their promise and performance ahead of qualifying.
The #66 Audi would receive another penalty in the last moments of the race for abuse of track limits, but it added just five seconds to the race time. Christopher Mies drove an impressive closing stint and brought the car home one minute and 38 seconds clear of the #55 driven by Nick Foster, Murod Sultanov and Mattia Drudi.
Things weren’t as easy for Rossi and co. in the Kessel Ferrari. The MotoGP legend took the start, and on his in-lap at the end of the first stint, a fuel flow issue briefly ground the car to a halt. From that point on, however, the car and the trio of drivers performed well, and while the #7 Dinamic Porsche led the PRO-AM class for many hours courtesy of the problem, they too ran into issues; a loss of steering with under two hours to go proved to be too major of an ailment to fix.
The #5 Spirit Race Team Uwe Alzen Audi came home fourth overall and second in PRO-AM, with the team’s eponymous driver at the wheel for the closing stint. The experienced peddler could not shrink a 33-second deficit between him and Rossi in the final hour but still secured second in class, some 11 laps clear of the #8 LP Racing Lamborghini which took the third spot in the class.
Rounding out the overall top five was the winning car in the all-amateur GT3 G classification, the #10 SPS Automotive Performance Mercedes of Manuel Lauck, Valentin Pierburg and Christian Hook. Second in the class was the #65 Kessel Racing Ferrari, piloted by Alexis De Bernardi, Nicola Cadei and another MotoGP star, Loris Capirossi.
GT4: Balfe eases the McLarens home for class victory
With four cars on the lead lap as the second part of the race started, GT4 looked like it would be the most competitive contest of all in the dusk. However, a dramatic first hour put paid to the potential battle.
On the formation lap, James Holder (#44 David Appleby Engineering Aston Martin) found himself making contact with the rear of Mia Flewitt’s #21 Balfe entry as the Swede had to slow just before the green flag. This left minor damage on the back of Flewitt’s McLaren, which would result in a black and orange flag and a brief pitstop. Meanwhile, over-heating issues stemming from the incident would ultimately end the race early for the Aston Martin crew.
The #90 SVC Sport Management Mercedes would also fall out of contention within the first hour due to a 90 second stop and go penalty for to a pitstop infringement in the earlier six hours of action.
This left the pair of Balfe McLarens to take a comfortable one-two finish in class. The #21 car led for much of the night, however, an error in the final pitstop saw Josh Cook overshoot the team’s garage as the lollipop wasn’t displayed. This left the #22 570S GT4 of Ollie Millroy, Nick Moss, James Pickford and Brendan Iribe to pick up the class honours.
The SVC Mercedes would round out the GT4 podium.
Prototype success went the way of ARC Bratislava, with Miro Konopka, Neale Muston and Simon Murray steering the #4 Ginetta to 14th overall. The GT Cup 1 class victory went to the #12 Art Line Team Georgia Lamborghini of Sergey Afanasyev, Jack Butel Steven Liquorish and Shota Abkgazava, while GT Cup 2 was won by the #14 MRS GT Racing Porsche crew, Glenn van Parijs, Graeme Mundy and JM Littmann.