***The Gulf 12 Hours features a unique race format of two six-hour races, with a two-hour and 25-minute break for teams to work on their cars. The first heat gets underway at 9:30 a.m. local and runs until 3:30 p.m. Each car’s total completed laps will be carried over into Race 2, scheduled for 5:55 p.m. and set to run until 11:55 p.m.
***Pole-sitters Jeroen Bleekemolen, Bernd Schneider and Khaled Al Qubaisi will be looking t0 cap off the year with another endurance win. The trio, along with the late Sean Edwards, teamed for victory in the 24 Hours of Dubai in January, prior to Edwards, Beekemolen, Schneider and Nicki Thiim winning the Nurburgring 24, also with Black Falcon. Additionally, Mercedes factory driver Schneider claimed wins in the Bathurst 12 Hour and 24 Hours of Spa.
***The German squad has paid tribute to Edwards with a decals on both of its Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 cars. Edwards, who died in a testing accident in October, had been one of Black Falcon’s regular drivers in the major endurance races, having helped take the team to back-to-back victories in Dubai, as well its overall win at the Nurburgring this year.
***While it will only race one car, Bentley brought its second Continental GT3 test car, in the event of needing any spare parts. The factory outfit had considered remaining in the Middle East for the 24 Hours of Dubai in January but has elected to return to the U.K. immediately following this week’s race to continue testing and development in Europe.
***The No. 12 Kessel Racing Ferrari, which had set the quickest average time in qualifying (but between only two drivers), has been excluded from the event because it is unable to find a third driver. It will bring the starting grid down to 21 cars, as the No. 94 Avelon Formula GB08 car and No. 21 Rhino’s Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini are both out with engine issues.
***With most teams based in Europe, one of the biggest challenges is coordinating and scheduling freight delivery for the event. A total of 31 shipping containers, weighing up to 7 tons each, departed from various ports last month for the 20-plus day boat trip to the Jebel Ali port in Dubai. Dubai-based GAC Logistics organized the entire effort.
***The Maserati Trofeo World Series has joined the Gulf 12 Hours package this week, with two 30-minute and one 50-minute race for the spec series. Seventy different drivers have driven in the global series this year, which has seen events at Paul Ricard, Nurburgring, Silverstone, Sonoma and Shanghai.
***Race promoters Driving Force Events Ltd. has extended its contract with Yas Marina Circuit for an additional two years, with the fourth edition of the Gulf 12 Hours set for Dec. 12, 2014.
***Follow the race with live timing and scoring, available here.