Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing earned pole position for the Lenovo Gulf 12 Hours for the second consecutive year after an intense qualifying session at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.
A strong grid, in GT3 cars from Audi, BMW, Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and Porsche, participated in four 15-minute qualifying sessions under lights on a warm Abu Dhabi evening at Yas Marina Circuit to decide the starting grid for Sunday’s 12-hour race.
Every driver participates in one qualifying session, and the consolidated lap time for each car is determined by the combined average of each driver’s fastest lap.
The #99 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Maro Engel, Luca Stolz and Mikael Grenier was the fastest car on the night, recording a four-lap average of 1min 51.272secs.
Engel said: “It’s great to be on pole. Thanks to the team. It’s great for Mercedes-AMG to have a one-two. We do know we have had a few of these pole positions throughout the year and the race has been another beast so we will focus on the race. It will be a tough race and we will give it everything.”
Mercedes-AMG Team 2 Seas Motorsport car #14, driven by Jules Gounon, Maximilian Goetz and Fabian Schiller made it an all-Mercedes-AMG front row, 0.232secs behind.
Pro-Am honours, for crews with a mix of professional and amateur drivers, went to Herberth Motorsport and its Porsche 911 GT3 R, driven by Antares Au, Tim Heinemann and Matteo Cairoli, which was an impressive third in the overall results.
Heinemann said: “For sure it was not easy but I think we can be happy with our overall performance. As a driver you always want more but there is a long race ahead of us.”
MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi alongside his #46 team-mates Dries Vanthoor and Nick Yelloly in the Team WRT-run BMW M4 GT3 will start Sunday’s race from fourth on the grid.
Mercedes-AMG Team GruppeM Racing’s other car, the #77 of Lucas Auer, Lorenzo Ferrari and Frankie Bird, was fifth overall. The #88 Garage 59 McLaren 720 GT3 EVO, in the hands of Alexander West, Marvin Kirchhöfer and Louis Prette was second in Pro-Am, sixth overall.
A bitter-sweet qualifying for Car Collection Motorsport saw the #21 Porsche 911 GT3 R top the times in the Am class, for crews exclusively consisting of amateur drivers, thanks to Dustin Blattner, Constantin Dressler and Joel Sturm.
However, the German team’s #12 Porsche 911 GT3 R, which had set the pace in second practice, saw its chances suffer a terminal blow in qualifying two when, with Stefano Constantini at the wheel, crashed at turn three. Action was delayed by almost an hour to allow for barrier repairs.
The Lenovo Gulf 12 Hours race begins on Sunday 10 December at 10.00am Abu Dhabi time (7.00am In Europe, 6.00am in the UK) and will be streamed line at www.youtube.com/@gulfmotorsport.