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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Yas Marina Saturday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Saturday notebook from Yas Marina on eve of 12th Gulf 12 Hours…

Photo: JEP/SRO

***Maro Engel, Lucas Auer and Maximilian Goetz claimed Mercedes-AMG’s third pole of the Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli season. Marciello was the pole-sitter at Spa after a penalty for Orange1 K-PAX Racing, while Jules Gounon topped qualifying at Indianapolis. Chaz Mostert led an Audi front-row at Bathurst.

***While Gounon set the outright qualifying pace with a time of 1:51.200 in the No. 89 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, the Frenchman was three-hundredths short of January’s qualifying best set by Monster VR46 Kessel Racing Ferrari driver David Fumanelli.

***However, the inclusion of all-factory driver lineups due to the event being an IGTC round meant that the three-driver average of the pole-sitting No. 98 Mercedes-AMG was just over half a second quicker than January’s pole average from 2 Seas Motorsport.

***Audi Sport Team Tresor’s Kelvin van der Linde believes Sunday’s Gulf 12 Hours could come down to the team that makes the least amount of mistakes, due to a “very unique” set of sporting regulations. Teams received updates to the technical and sporting regulations on Thursday, with multiple clarifications relating to various topics such as FCY procedures, mandatory pit stops and time penalties.

****Van der Linde told Sportscar365: “It’s very complicated regulations for all of the teams. I think there’s a lot of potential for errors. I think there’s going to be a lot of penalties in the race. Touch wood, we’re not involved in any of those. But it’s going to be a complicated race.”

***The South African is making his second appearance at Yas Marina Circuit after taking part in the 2021 Asian Le Mans Series rounds in an LMP2 class Phoenix Racing Oreca 07 Gibson, which was prior to the circuit updates made for Formula 1 later that year. “I had mixed vibes with coming here in a GT car with the stop-and-go nature of the track but the updates have been very well, so it’s actually quite nice,” he said.

***Both of GruppeM Racing’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos are new chassis for this race according to team owner Kenny Chen, who said that the team has three more cars back at its German workshop including two that are being repaired after accidents in DTM.

***In a similar case to GruppeM and Kessel Racing, 2 Seas Motorsport had a late night on Friday, with the team working until 4 a.m. on its Mercedes-AMGs which encountered problems in testing. The crashed No. 1 car developed a clutch issue during the night session while the No. 51 had an engine change. Both cars ran on Saturday.

***Several family lineups are racing this weekend. There are the father-son pairings of Jan and Kevin Magnussen and Philippe and Louis Prette in AF Corse-run Ferraris. There is also the father-daughter combination of Peter and Stephane Cox at Saalocin Racing. Furthermore, Thomas Gostner is sharing MP Racing’s Mercedes-AMG with his children Manuela, Corinna and David.

***Magnussen finished seventh in the third qualifying session, while his MDK Motorsports Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 qualified 15th based on average times. The Formula 1 driver clocked in at 1:51.793, six-tenths behind pacesetter Jules Gounon.

***Audi has yet to commit to next year’s IGTC season according to head of Audi Sport customer racing Chris Reinke, who told Sportscar365 that they have to sort programs from the “bottom-up” for 2023, including figuring out its potential involvement in the newly structured DTM series that will now be under ADAC ownership.

***The German automaker has been ever-present in SRO Motorsports Group’s globe-trotting GT3 series since its launch, having won four manufacturer championships, including three consecutive from 2016-18.

***Reinke said he expects to fill several vacant factory seats with up-and-coming drivers next year. “We have a few youngsters under the spotlight of ours,” he said. “Once we know exactly how big the demand is, once we know the demand of our cooperation partners are, we will decide on the Audi Sport drivers lineup for next year.”

***Sky-Tempesta Racing drivers Chris Froggatt and Jonathan Hui sampled a Garage 59 McLaren 720S GT3 the day after the GTWC Europe Endurance Cup season finale at Barcelona, albeit briefly.

***Team principal Andrew Kirkaldy told Sportscar365: “It really was a little bit. Jonny did six or seven laps and Chris managed maybe three or four. We were doing a test, but they were busy during the day, so they got there at half 4 and it finished at 5! They’re loving the car so far.”

***This is not the first time that Garage 59 has run another team’s program: the British squad linked up with Inception Racing for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. However, that crew also involved AF Corse staff due to the loaning of a Ferrari, whereas the Gulf 12 Hours effort is purely Garage 59.

***Pirelli is supplying the Porsche-only GT Cup class with DMD2 tires on the front and DHD2 tires on the rear. The DHD2 was used in GT3 a few years back. It is understood that this combination was originally going to be used for LMP3 cars at the FIA Motorsport Games, but the cancelation of the prototype discipline left Pirelli with lots of tires to use.

***Cars competing in the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour are set to run on Pirelli’s latest P Zero DHF tire, which will be rolled out in Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia powered by AWS next season. The older DHE was used at Bathurst in February and stayed in use during the GTWC Australia campaign, while the new-for-2022 DHF was adopted elsewhere.

***Pirelli will continue to work alongside Porsche GT3 team Dinamic Motorsport on a tire development program focused on the Nürburgring 24 next year. The deal, which started during the 2021 season, is understood to be valid through 2024.

***Gulf 12 Hours event promoter Andrea Ficarelli told reporters Saturday that he has no intention of expanding the grid beyond 37 cars for future editions of the race. This limit has been achieved due to the number of garages on the main pit lane complex.

***Ficarelli said the addition of IGTC to the event provided a seven-car boost to the overall field although several prospective Pro-Am and Am teams elected not to take up entries due to the inclusion of an all-pro GT3 class. Ficarelli stated that the event already had 30-plus confirmed entries prior to its deal with SRO Motorsports Group.

***Tresor is testing some drivers in Attempto Racing’s Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo IIs at Yas Marina next week. Lorenzo Patrese, the teenage son of ex-Formula 1 driver Riccardo Patrese, is among those taking part. Andrey Mukovoz, who made his GT3 debut with Herberth Motorsport in this year’s Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai, and Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine driver Francesco Braschi are also booked in.

***Despite Team WRT’s switch to BMW, Audi is expected to have the same number of R8 LMS GT3 Evo IIs racing in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe next year according to Reinke, who said they have a “few interested parties” that have yet to announce plans in addition to the already-confirmed multi-car GT3 effort from Audi TCR squad Comtoyou.

***Kessel Racing plans to focus its GT3 program on International GT Open next year, rather than returning to GTWC Europe where it last ran as a Pro-Am squad in 2021. “For me, Fanatec GT is the best championship,” team manager Tiziana Borghi told Sportscar365. “But the level is so high that we don’t have the right lineup to compete. Unfortunately next year, no. Maybe in 2024.”

***Borghi also said that Kessel is “working on” fielding two Ferrari 488 GTE Evos in the European Le Mans Series. One car is already confirmed for Car Guy Racing’s Takeshi Kimura, who has also lodged an entry request for the FIA World Endurance Championship.

***The 12th edition of the Gulf 12 Hours gets underway Sunday at 10 a.m. local time (1 a.m. ET) with live coverage on SRO’s GT World YouTube page featuring the commentary team of David Addison and Mark Werrell, with Alan Hyde reporting on pit lane.

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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