AF Corse repeat Gulf 12 Hours win
The top Italian AF Corse team scored its second successive victory in the Gulf 12 Hours around the spectacular Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
After winning the inaugural race by just 2.6″, AF Corse had things a little easier this time as former Minardi F1 driver ‘Gimmi’ Bruni, Finn Toni Vilander, and Venezuelan Gaetano Ardagna took their Ferrari 458 to a 25″ victory over the AF Waltrip 458 driven by Ryan Dalziel, Pierre Kaffer and Alex Popow after 309 laps of the challenging, varied Hermann Tilke-designed circuit.
Smart strategy when the team took two of its four mandatory two minute second half pit stops under a Safety Car, set up the win.
“It was a good call from the team and I’d like to thank Toni and Gaetano as well,” Bruni said. “We didn’t put the car off the track all race and we were all quick and consistent.”
Vilander added: “We learned from our opponents (Kessel) who used strategy to strong effect in the first half of the race. It was a great event at a fabulous venue.”
The final podium place went to the Autorlando Porsche of the Dutch Bleekemolen brothers, Jeroen and Sabastiaan, sharing with Venezuelan Emilio Di Guida. Jeroen Bleekemolen in particular drove some heroic stints as the team tried to make up for a 60s stop/go penalty for exceeding the maximum 75 minutes stint length at the very start of the race.
The team seemed set for a strong recovery in the last 90 minutes of the race but the younger Bleekemolen actually felt ill for the final portion, cutting short his chase of the AF Waltrip car.
Fourth place also fell to the Italian-American AF Waltrip team, in the shape of Muarizio Mediani, Michele Rugolo and Steve Wyatt.
Fifth overall and winner of the SC sportscar Class, just four laps down, was the Avelon Formula car of Ivan Bellarosa, 16-year-old Alessandro Latif and local driver Juma Ali Al Dhaeri. The Wolf GB08 was particularly rapid in Bellarosa’s hands, chasing down and passing the sixth place Kessel Racing Ferrari of Philipp Peter, Daniel Zampieri and Michael Broniszewski in the final stint of the race.
Kessel, narrowly beaten in the inaugural event, were unlucky once more. Good strategy under a first half Safety Car established the Swiss Ferrari 458 in front, but a delay when the front bodywork worked loose in the second half of the race, cost the team dear.
GTX class honours seemed firmly in the hands of the Ebimotors Porsche but a major gearbox issue threw them out contention. The Nova Race Ginetta G50 driven by Roberto Rainieri, Luca Magnoni, Luis Scarpaccio and Matteo Cressoni inherited the lead and got honors after a strong and consistent performance that allowed them to finish ahead of the Yas Marina Racing Aston Martin and the Barwell Motorsport V8 Vantage.
(Image: Gulf 12 Hours)