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Bahrain Friday Notebook

Jake Kilshaw’s notebook from the first day of the Bahrain GT Festival…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

***Rinaldi Racing’s Ferrari 488 GT3s for the German and Russian entries arrived in Bahrain during Free Practice 1 after delays clearing customs in Dubai. The cars took to the track for the first time in FP2.

***Squadra Corse Garage Italia, running the Mexican entry, has had to use a last-minute replacement car from AF Corse after its Ferrari was blocked in customs while exiting the U.S. The replacement was flown in from Italy and arrived on Thursday night.

***The event has been branded “Battle of the Nations” in a similar fashion to the SRO’s “Battle of the Brands” moniker seen at the first FIA GT1 World Championship event in 2010, which was also held in the Middle East at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. 

***No tire changes will be permitted during the race, unless a team has a puncture or a switch to rain tires is necessary. This is a break from the SRO’s usual pit stop procedures for 60-minute sprint races.

***The FIA’s Balance of Performance has been implemented instead of the SRO’s figures, and SRO technical director Claude Surmont isn’t on site this weekend. BoP changes are possible until two hours ahead of the first qualifying race.

***A minimum pit stop time for the driver change will be communicated, and the stop must take place within a ten minute window in the middle of the race, as per usual SRO procedure.

***GT4 competitors are situated in the support paddock and pit garages along the back straight, although they are using the main pit lane during sessions, as no timing loops are installed along the secondary pit straight.

***AKKA ASP had planned for Jim Pla to join team principal Jerome Policand in the team’s GT4 International Cup entry but the tight schedule between the GT4 sessions and FIA GT Nations Cup made this impossible. He has instead been replaced by Tomas Drouet.

***Pla will co-drive with Jean-Luc Beaubelique in AKKA ASP’s GT3 entry, representing France in the Nations Cup.

***Gulf 12 Hours promoter Andrea Ficarelli is present in Bahrain, two weeks ahead of his race in Abu Dhabi. No entry list has been released for the event yet, but at least 30 cars are expected.

***McLaren’s new 720S GT3 will make its race debut at the Gulf 12 Hours, and the car is in the paddock this weekend for its public debut. It turned some laps on track this afternoon.

***Herberth Motorsport will support a currently undisclosed team with a Porsche 911 GT3 R in the Gulf 12 Hours, which Sportscar365 understands could be GP Extreme. The Dubai-based team is rumored to be planning an expanded program with the new Porsche GT3 car next season.

***This weekend marks Pasin Lathouras’ first race of the season after business commitments prevented the Thai driver from completing a full program this year. He represents Thailand in a Kessel Racing-run Ferrari alongside Piti Bhirombhakdi.

***Belgian Audi Club Team WRT is still pursuing an entry for the Rolex 24 at Daytona, although it is not yet finalized.

***The team will not compete in the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour the following weekend, but this is understood to be as part of Audi’s commitment to utilize local teams for the Intercontinental GT Challenge, rather than logistical difficulties between the back-to-back enduros.

Laurent Mercier contributed to this report.

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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