2 Seas Motorsport locked out the front row of the grid for the Gulf 12 Hours as the British-Bahraini team’s McLaren 720S GT3s dominated qualifying at Bahrain International Circuit.
Ben Barnicoat, Martin Kodric and 2 Seas co-owner Isa Bin Abdulla Alkhalifa posted an average time of 1:59.716 across Friday’s three individual qualifying sessions to claim pole position for the two-part Gulf enduro, which is being held in Bahrain for the first time.
Their teammates Dylan Pereira, Lewis Williamson and Ed Jones qualified second in the sister No. 7 McLaren by a margin of 0.208 seconds.
Elsewhere, nine-time Grand Prix motorcycle world champion Valentino Rossi contributed to his Kessel Racing-run Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 qualifying eighth in the 12-car field.
The 2 Seas Motorsport McLarens, which are the only Pro-class cars entered, finished one-two in the first two sessions, with Jones beating Al-Khalifa to the top spot in Q1 by 0.106s before Kodric out-paced Williamson in Q2 by a finer margin of 0.014s.
The No. 33 McLaren then seized the upper hand in Q3 as Barnicoat led the session on a time of 1:59.107, while Porsche Supercup ace Pereira finished seven-tenths off in third.
Kessel Racing’s No. 37 Am Ferrari will start from third after Francesco Zollo, Ferrari Challenge Europe champion Emanuele Maria Tabacchi and David Fumanelli posted a 2:00.932 average. The Italian trio will be joined by Murat Cuhadaroglu in the race.
Kessel’s crew will share row two of the grid with the Dinamic Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Stefano Monaco, Roberto Pampanini and Mauro Calamia.
Ram Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo drivers Ian Loggie, Callum MacLeod and Chris Froggatt came through in fifth, while Team Parker Racing’s Bentley Continental GT3 driven by Andy Meyrick, Derek Pierce and Euan McKay completed the top-six.
The fourth row will be occupied by Kessel Racing’s two other Ferraris, including the Monster VR46 car which includes motorcycling legend Rossi as one of its drivers.
Rossi took the third leg in qualifying, posting a 2:01.370. That marked the second-best time of his Pro-Am crew which also features last year’s Moto2 runner-up Luca Marini.
Inception Racing with Optimum’s McLaren rounded out the nine-car GT3 entry.
A 22-car GT3 grid was originally announced for the race, although several declared entries from the likes of Haupt Racing Team, AKKA-ASP and Car Collection Motorsport did not materialize.
In the GT4 ranks, Scuderia Villorba Corse took pole with its Mercedes-AMG GT4 qualified by Michele Camarlinghi, Jean-Luc D’auria and Benedetto Strignano.
The trio’s aggregate time of 2:12.586 ended up being 1.4 seconds quicker than the next-best average set by the drivers of Optimum Motorsport’s McLaren 570S GT4.
The Gulf 12 Hours, which marks the first endurance race of the year, is due to start on Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m. local time (1:30 a.m. ET, 6:30 GMT). After six hours, the race will pause before resuming at 5:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. ET, 2:30 p.m. GMT).
RESULTS: Qualifying (combined)