Car Collection Motorsport led the eighth edition of the Gulf 12 Hours going into the event’s halftime neutralization.
The No. 88 Audi R8 LMS GT3 driven by Markus Winkelhock, Christopher Haase and Dimitri Parhofer worked its way up from 11th on the grid to lead overall at Yas Marina Circuit.
Winkelhock ended the first half with a 26.665-second lead to Alvaro Parente in the No. 5 McLaren 720S GT3, despite being tipped into a spin by the Pro-Am leading Lamborghini.
Parente, Ben Barnicoat and Shane van Gisbergen have been in the thick of the lead battle but the debuting McLaren not yet had any extended running out front.
Barnicoat overtook Davide Rigon in the No. 11 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 for second on lap one while Van Gisbergen traded second place with Nick Foster’s No. 99 Attempto Racing Audi in an exciting fourth-hour scrap.
Rigon, who shares the Ferrari with Alessandro Pier Guidi and Michael Bronizsewski, ended the first half in third while the Attempto Audi that Foster co-drives with Klaus Bachler and Stanislav Minsky ran fourth.
Rigon took over the final provisional podium spot after Attempto pitted its car twice in quick succession to meet the minimum requirement of four timed stops in the first five hours.
Both the Kessel and Attempto cars were over a minute down on the Car Collection Audi, but the gaps will be restored for the second half which begins at 5:30 pm local time (8:30 a.m eastern).
The pole-sitting No. 4 Graff Norma M30 Nissan sat eighth overall and led the Prototype class at halfway, while the French team’s sister No. 39 car lost several laps after Kang Ling reported a loss of power.
Daiko Lazarus Racing’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 commanded the Pro-Am class with Miguel Ramos ending the first half almost a minute ahead of Rahel Frey in the No. 83 Kessel Ferrari.
An early wheel issue for the GT4 pole-sitting Aston Martin Vantage left the class lead open, with the No. 3 Bullitt Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 assuming the
The first six hours were interrupted by two safety car periods lasting an hour in total.
One was caused by a collision between the No. 8 Car Collection Audi and the No. 51 Spirit of Race Ferrari, while the other came after a Cup-class Porsche crashed out at turn seven.