The first two sessions of Free Practice for the second Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi promise a multi-marque battle to rival the inaugural running of the race when less than 1″ covered the first three cars.
Quickest overall was the Autorlando Porsche 997 R (2’11″416) driven by Dutch Bleekemolen brothers Jeroen and Sebastiaan, with Venezuelan Emilio Di Guida. As well as the experienced Porsche Supercup Champion of 2008-9 (Jeroen), who set the time, the team could also call upon circuit knowledge from the first Yas Marina event and set its quickest time in the opening session.
Kessel Racing’s lead Ferrari 458 (2:11.535), piloted by Michael Broniszewski / Philipp Peter / and time-setter Daniel Zampieri, was just over a tenth shy of the leading Porsche in the second 80-minute session.
The next two positions were occupied by the two McLaren MP4-12Cs entered. Former British F3 and Formula Renault 3.5 champion Alvaro Parente recorded a first session 2:12.197 in the ASM car he shares with fellow works driver Rob Bell and Karim Ojjeh, brother of McLaren Group shareholder Mansour.
Austrian Philipp Eng lapped the MRS Molitor McLaren in 2:12.561 to narrowly head the AF Waltrip Ferrari 458s on 2:12.702 and 2:12.756 respectively.
Good showings came also from the AF Waltrip entries, respectively P5 (Popow-Kaffer-Dalziel) and P6 (Wyatt-Rugolo-Mediani) in the second session, ahead of the United Autosports R8 LMS driven by Mark Patterson, Matthew Bell and Will Bratt
AF Corse, winners of the first Gulf 12 Hours, has yet to fully reveal its hand. The team did not run new tyres with light fuel in either session, finishing with its lead car of “Gimmi” Bruni / Toni Vilander and Gaetano Ardagna down in 11th position on 2:13.174.
Ruhan-Mastroberardino-Pitorri-Belotti in the #46 Avelon entry edged the sister car of Bellarosa-Al Dhaeri-Latif in the Sportscar Class, while Ebimotors lead both sessions in the GTX Class, with Matteo Beretta posting a 2’19″120 in his quickest lap.
Track action will resume tomorrow at 10.40 with the last Free Practice, followed by Qualifying at 15.20.