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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Yas Marina Thursday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Thursday notebook from the IGTC paddock at Yas Marina Circuit…

Photo: JEP/SRO

***The latest entry list for the Gulf 12 Hours shows a total of 34 cars and all of the confirmed driver lineups. The GT3 field stands at 30 entries after an originally planned second Optimum Motorsport McLaren 720S GT3 did not materialize. The British squad is now focusing solely on its Inception Racing McLaren.

****Both of Speedlover’s planned Porsche Cup entries have also fallen through, with the single-make category now down to four competitors.

***The second 2 Seas Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo is being driven by James Cottingham, Lewis Williamson and Aaron Walker. Cottingham and Williamson teamed up in British GT this year, while Walker was picked up from racing a Citroen Saxo in the U.K. Junior Saloon Car Championship.

***2 Seas Motorsport has the No. 1 designation for its other Mercedes-AMG driven by defending winners Isa Al Khalifa and Martin Kodric, who are joined by Hunter Abbott.

***BMW Junior Team driver Dan Harper will spearhead Century Motorsport’s entry with a BMW M4 GT3. Harper is teaming up with Darren Leung and Eduardo Coseteng.

***Porsche Carrera Cup competitor Carlos Rivas has joined EBM Giga Racing’s Pro-Am setup with a Porsche 911 GT3 R, which is now a four-driver lineup.

***Seven teams are contesting their second Gulf 12 Hours of the year, after taking part in January’s edition. They are 2 Seas Motorsport, Kessel Racing, AF Corse, SPS Automotive Performance (including SunEnergy1 Racing), Baron Motorsport, Attempto Racing and Century, which has stepped up from GT4 to GT3.

***Five previous winners of the event are taking part: Al Khalifa, Kodric, Ben Barnicoat, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Davide Rigon, who is the most successful Gulf 12 Hours driver with five consecutive victories for Kessel Racing starting in 2014.

***The independent Sainteloc Junior Team and Tresor Attempto Racing Audis are entered into the race as Pro cars, despite their crews containing only Silver-rated drivers. This is because the Gulf 12 Hours does not have a Silver Cup class and the race is running to the event’s rulebook, rather than the IGTC.

***However, those Sainteloc and Attempto Audis appear as Silver on the 16-car entry list of vehicles eligible to score IGTC points. This was approved by the IGTC’s Sporting Board in a special case because manufacturers can only nominate a maximum of three Pro cars. Keeping the two Audis as Pro on the IGTC entry sheet would have prevented one of them from scoring.

***Mercedes-AMG, Audi Sport, Ferrari and Porsche have all nominated cars for IGTC points. Porsche doesn’t have any Pro cars, with its customers instead racing towards the Intercontinental GT Pro-Am Challenge which has already been won by SunEnergy1 Racing.

***Mercedes-AMG is pursuing its fifth consecutive IGTC win of the year, and its fourth out of four wins this season. It closed out the 2021 campaign by winning the Kyalami 9 Hour in February with Akkodis ASP, before finishing first in the 2022 rounds at Bathurst (SunEnergy1 Racing), Spa-Francorchamps (Akkodis ASP) and Indianapolis (Craft-Bamboo Racing).

***Both of the Pro-class AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020s raced in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS this year. The No. 50 appeared in Sprint Cup, while the No. 71 competed in Endurance Cup.

***Kessel Racing’s pair of Ferraris, meanwhile, raced in International GT Open this year on Michelin tires. The GT3 cars are using the Pirelli P Zero DHF tire this weekend.

***The No. 88 Garage 59 McLaren 720S GT3 has a prominent Gulf sticker on its hood and Rofgo branding to coincide with Benjamin Goethe’s inclusion in the driver lineup.

***There is no Super Pole shootout at the Gulf 12 Hours. Instead, the grid will be decided by the average times of each crew in qualifying on Saturday evening. Each driver will have 15 minutes to set a lap time.

***Yas Marina Circuit hosted the end of the Mille Migila Experience UAE on Thursday. Around 80 classic and modern luxury cars took part in a grand tour rally that started in Dubai on Monday and ran to the northeastern tip of the country before returning southwest along the coast towards Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

***All SRO Motorsports Group teams raced carbon neutral this year, according to the organizing body’s sustainability department. SRO posted 66 percent carbon neutrality based on its involvement in sustainability programs around the world, including the reforestation of 2,500 trees in Belgium and the U.K.

***Mercedes-AMG has officially revealed a 4-liter V8-powered GT2 car in a series of images on social media, with few other details. SRO is known to have been eager for Mercedes-AMG to homologate its GT Track Series model for the upstart racing platform.

***Jules Gounon teased that he anticipates having a “crazy” schedule in the first couple of months of next year. “Nothing is announced, but it’s something I haven’t done that much so let’s see,” said the Frenchman.

***German team Lionspeed GP, which utilized Car Collection Motorsport’s technical support at the Nürburgring, appears on the No. 69 Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R with Lionspeed regular Patrick Kolb among the drivers. Lionspeed on Wednesday announced that it will be permanently switching from Audi to Porsche next year. Both Car Collection and Herberth have new Porsche 911 GT3 Rs on order.

***Track action begins on Friday, with five hours of Open Practice on offer. One of the four sessions will be reserved for Bronze-rated drivers, while the final session will take place at night. Similarly-named official Free Practice sessions will be held on Saturday before qualifying.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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