Kessel Racing leads the fifth running of the Gulf 12 Hours at the halfway point and end of the first part of the around-the-clock enduro at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit.
Michael Broniszewski took the No. 11 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 across the line 1 minute and 10 seconds ahead of the No. 2 Black Falcon Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 of Abdulaziz Al Faisal after six hours of racing.
The Swiss squad dominated the majority of the segment, with Davide Rigon taking over the lead early in the third hour on Lap 55 from Yelmer Buurman and stretching out a steady advantage over the pair of Mercedes.
Black Falcon’s sister No. 1 entry, which battled alternator issues in qualifying, currently runs third, thanks to a late charge by Maro Engel.
The pole-sitting No. 44 Oman Racing Team Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3, which hasn’t played a factor so far, runs in fourth, with the No. 51 AF Corse completing the top-five overall and leading the Pro-Am class.
The top four overall finished the first segment on the lead lap, putting them in the best position for the overall win.
Kessel Racing’s No. 65 Ferrari is out front in the Gentlemen class, while the No. 2o MRS GT Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car holds a one-lap lead in the Porsche Cup class.
The highlight of the race came in the first corner of the first lap, in a three-car pileup that collected the No. 55 AF Corse Ferrari of Ilya Melnikov, the No. 88 Dragon Racing Ferrari of Alex Kapadia and the Mario Cordoni-driven No. 87 GDL Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.
It resulted in a length safety car period, although all three cars eventually rejoined the action. However, the Dragon Ferrari later dropped out with engine failure and is currently the only retirement of the race.
The second six-hour segment, which will see gaps neutralized, but the total number of laps carried over, gets underway at 5:45 p.m. local time.
RESULTS: Gulf 12H Part 1