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Gulf 12H

15-Car Field Set for First Endurance Race of Year

Gulf 12H posts 15-car entry for return to Yas Marina amid logistical, COVID-related challenges…

Photo: Foto Speedy/Gulf 12H Media

A 15-car grid is set to contest this weekend’s Gulf 12 Hours which stands as the first endurance race of the year and the first major international sports car event to take place since the emergence of the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant.

A dozen GT3 cars headline the entry alongside a three-car grid in the GT4 category for the event’s return to Yas Marina Circuit.

Gulf 12 Hours promoter Driving Force Events initially declared a capacity 39-car entry in July but recent developments have resulted in reduced numbers, although the total is slightly larger than the 12-car grid that lined up for last year’s race held in Bahrain.

A statement from Driving Force Events said that the 10th edition of the event has been “severely hit by global logistical disruptions” as well as team withdrawals that have come “as a result of recent COVID-19 restrictions”.

It added that the full entry list with driver names will be released closer to the event in anticipation of any last-minute changes.

Fully vaccinated arrivals into Abu Dhabi are required to carry out a negative COVID-19 PCR test when they land. Unvaccinated arrivals are required to quarantine for 10 days if they are coming from non ‘green list’ countries.

A total of 14 GT3 teams that were on the provisional Gulf 12 Hours entry are no longer listed. They include Balfe Motorsport, Car Collection Motorsport, Dinamic Motorsport, JOTA, Optimum Motorsport, RAM Racing and Boutsen Ginion.

Former winners Attempto Racing, Kessel Racing, AF Corse and 2 Seas Motorsport are among the GT3 outfits signed up to compete in the two-part race on Saturday.

2 Seas Motorsport is bringing a pair of Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos after winning last year with a McLaren 720S GT3.

2019 winner Attempto is Audi’s only representative with a single R8 LMS GT3 Evo II while three-time winner AF Corse is fielding a pair of Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020s.

Kessel is running three Ferraris as originally planned, including one for Valentino Rossi’s VR46 setup, while Baron Motorsport is the other Ferrari entrant taking part.

SPS Automotive Performance is set to operate two Mercedes-AMGs, with one of those being entered under Kenny Habul’s SunEnergy1 Racing banner.

AKKA-ASP completes the Mercedes-AMG camp in a field that consists entirely of Europe-based teams.

The GT4 grid has been severely impacted by withdrawals after posting an 11-car provisional entry, although McLaren squad Greystone GT is a new addition to the field alongside the BMW M4 and Aston Martin Vantage stable from Century Motorsport.

“Considering all the difficulties we have faced, plus running this event on a different date due to the scheduling of the 2021 F1 calendar, we are happy with the result that we have achieved in such tough circumstances,” said Driving Force Events director Andrea Ficarelli.

“We have put together a quality starting grid despite the challenges. We look forward to a great race and a positive future with no more disruption, particularly as we have already confirmed our traditional race date for the 11th edition on December 11, 2022.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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