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Lenovo Gulf 12 Hours kicks off with first test sessions

Updated: Dec 9, 2023

The Lenovo Gulf 12 Hours officially began at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi with the opening test sessions prior to the 10 December race.

A strong grid, representing the top sportscar manufacturers Audi, BMW, Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and Porsche, began their preparations ahead of Saturday’s qualifying sessions, which determine the starting grid for Sunday’s 12-hour race.

The Lenovo Gulf 12 Hours, the Middle East’s premier GT endurance race, features three different categories of driver crews, all competing with GT3 racing cars based on their roadgoing counterparts. The Pro category features the world’s top professional racers, while in Pro-Am each car is driven by a combination of professional and amateurs, whilst Am is exclusively for amateur drivers.

Three test sessions took place on Friday, representing a total of four hours of driving, as teams adjusted their cars to the particular demands of the 5.281km Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Circuit, which features an exciting combination of fast straights, sweeping bends and challenging corners.

The Lenovo Gulf 12 Hours driver line-up includes star names throughout, including MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi, who participates in the event for the third time in the #46 Team WRT BMW M4 GT3 alongside Dries Vanthoor and Nick Yelloly.

“This track is fantastic,” said Rossi. “Driving here at Yas Marina is always a pleasure. It’s the last race of the season so it is like the last day of school. I already know the track because I raced here in 2019. But you have three or four parts that are different now; it is faster with fewer corners. All the new parts are very difficult, all medium-fast corners and after you pass through the hotel, which is more narrow, more tight, like a TT track.”

The #21 Porsche 911 GT3 R entered by Car Collection Motorsport, driven by Dustin Blattner, Costantin Dressler and Joel Sturm, set the fastest lap of the day, of 1min 52.172secs.

Another Porsche, the #33 of Herberth Motorsport, driven by Antares Au, Tim Heinemann and Matteo Cairoli, was second fastest. The #59 Garage 59-entered McLaren 720 GT3 EVO of Benjamin Goethe, Oliver Goethe, Shaun Balfe and Mark Sansom ended the day third.

Fourth on the timing sheets was the #75 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of SunEnergy1 Racing, while Team WRT’s #46 BMW M4 GT3 was fifth and last year’s Gulf 12 Hours winners AF Corse rounded out the top six with its #61 Ferrari 296 GT3.

Four qualifying sessions on Saturday 9 December, starting at 6pm Abu Dhabi time (3pm in Europe, 2pm in the UK), will kick off the live video coverage via the event’s official YouTube channel at

The Lenovo Gulf 12 Hours race begins on Sunday 10 December at 10am Abu Dhabi time (7am In Europe, 6am in the UK).


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