Martin Kodric, Isa Al Khalifa and Ben Barnicoat got their Gulf 12 Hours defense off to a strong start by taking pole position for Saturday’s two-part race at Yas Marina Circuit.
The 2021 race winners set the fastest average time across three qualifying sessions to put their No. 1 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo at the head of the 15-car grid.
Their combined time of 1:52.047 beat the second-placed SPS Automotive Performance Mercedes-AMG crew of Kenny Habul, Mikael Grenier and Maro Engel by four-tenths.
Giorgio Sernagiotto, Eddie Cheever III and Tani Hanna qualified third in the Pro-Am pole-sitting No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 with a 1:52.726 average.
Kodric opened 2 Seas Motorsport’s qualifying account by going fastest in the opening 15-minute session.
The Croatian posted a time of 1:51.813 to beat Sernagiotto by just under two-tenths, followed by Ian Loggie in the other 2 Seas Mercedes-AMG.
Al Khalifa ranked seventh in the middle session with Grenier producing the 1:51.334 benchmark for SPS, although at that stage it was Sernagiotto and Cheever’s Ferrari that held the combined edge.
2 Seas Motorsport then moved ahead in the final session when Barnicoat laid down a 1:51.556 to put more than two seconds over the Ferrari with Hanna behind the wheel.
SPS also got ahead of the No. 51 AF Corse entry in the overall order courtesy of Mercedes-AMG factory driver Engel finishing second in Q3, one place ahead of Barnicoat.
David Fumanelli topped the final session in the VR46 Ferrari with a 1:51.170 effort but his car’s average score ultimately fell behind that of the best-placed AF Corse 488 GT3.
The No. 11 Kessel Racing Ferrari qualified fifth, ahead of the Am-class Mercedes-AMG from the 2 Seas squad which fielded McLarens at the Gulf 12 Hours last year.
Another Ferrari from AF Corse ended up seventh, on the same row of the grid as the Attempto Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II which counts Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS champion Dries Vanthoor as one of its drivers.
Pole position on the three-car GT4 class went to the No. 15 Century Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT4 driven by David Holloway, Piers Johnson and Bradley Ellis.
The first six-hour segment of the Gulf 12 Hours gets underway at 9:40 a.m. GST (12:40 a.m. ET).