An exciting and hard-fought Lenovo Gulf 12 Hours ended with victory for Mercedes-AMG GruppeM Racing at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
The Middle East’s premier endurance race for GT cars took place for the 13th time – the 12th in Abu Dhabi – and saw an action-packed encounter which featured battles for the top positions right until the chequered flag.
Maro Engel, Luca Stolz and Mikael Grenier started from pole position and completed the victory shortly after 10pm local time in their #99 Mercedes-AMG GT3 car, the third time the German marque has won the prestigious Gulf 12 Hours.
Grenier said: “It was a good race. We had pace, especially in the daytime. We had a really strong car, and we could push all the time. The team did a good job and I am super happy.”
The destination of the trophy was contested throughout the 12 hours and Team WRT’s #46 BMW M4 GT3, driven by MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi, Dries Vanthoor and Nick Yelloly, pushed their rivals all the way to the flag, finishing just 12.811secs behind after 348 laps of racing.
Rossi added: “The target was to arrive on the podium. We did a great race, close to perfect one and we could fight for victory. We lost a bit in the pit, if not we could fight to the last corner with the #99 but we are very happy because we were competitive. It is a good way to end the season.”
Maro Engel, Luca Stolz and Mikael Grenier
Mercedes-AMG Team 2 Seas
completed the overall podium in third place with their #14 Mercedes-AMG GT3,
raced by Jules Gounon, Maximilian Goetz and Fabian Schiller.
There were three Mercedes-AMG GT3 cars in the top four thanks to Lucas Auer, Lorenzo Ferrari and Frank Bird who earned fourth place for Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing in the #77.
Fifth place, and victory in the Am class for all-amateur driver line-ups went to Car Collection Motorsport and Dustin Blatner, Constantin Dressler and Joel Sturm in their #21 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
secured Pro-Am victory
, for crews with a mix of professional and amateur drivers
, and sixth overall with their #27 McLaren, driven by Mark Radcliffe, Ollie Millroy and Rob Bell.
Kessell Racing’s #11 Ferrari 296 GT3 finished second in Pro-Am, with the #33 Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 in third.
Gulf 12 Hours
Two-time winners 2 Seas Motorsport stood on the Am podium thanks to their second place with the #3 Mercedes-AMG GT3 while Herberth Motorsport’s #7 Porsche 911 GT3 R rounded out the podium.
The Lenovo Gulf 12 Hours was the final round of the 2023 Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli and saw three titles decided. Gounon’s podium finish earned him the drivers’ title, while Mercedes-AMG retained their manufacturers’ crown and Jonathan Hui took the Independents’ class.
A total of 16 cars reached the chequered flag after 12 gruelling hours of racing. Two cars, the #12 Porsche 911 GT3 R of Car Collection Motorsport and the 7Tsix Mercedes-AMG GT3 did not take the start due to accident damage incurred in qualifying.
The next edition of the Gulf 12 Hours will take place again in the race’s traditional end-of-year slot, on 15 December 2024, at its traditional Yas Marina Circuit home.
About the Gulf 12 Hours and Driving Force Events
Driving Force Events is the owner and promoter of the Gulf 12 Hours race, which was launched at the beginning of 2012 and has established itself as a benchmark for GT motorsport events in the Arabian Gulf region.
Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi has become the traditional home of the Gulf 12 Hours and has hosted 11 of the 12 editions, with Bahrain International Circuit holding a one-off running of the event in 2021.
In 2024, the Gulf 12 Hours
will take place on 15 December, while the new Winter Masters 500 is hosted at Autodromo Internacional do Algarve on 3 February.