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GruppeM and 2 Seas earn Mercedes-AMG front row lockout for Gulf 12 Hours

GruppeM and 2 Seas earn Mercedes-AMG front row lockout for Gulf 12 Hours

> Stolz, Grenier and Engel start finale from pole
> Au and Herberth lead Independent Cup contingent in third
> Result: Combined Qualifying

Mercedes-AMG, GruppeM Racing and Maro Engel have made it two Gulf 12 Hours pole positions in as many attempts at Yas Marina after topping a red flag interrupted qualifying session with the help of Mikael Grenier and Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli title contender Luca Stolz.

The trio triumphed on average across four 15-minute segments, the second of which was significantly delayed when Car Collection’s Porsche caused major barrier damage. An accident at the end of Q3 involving the 7TSIX Mercedes-AMG then added further time to a combined qualifying session that ultimately lasted 70 minutes longer than scheduled.

2 Seas’ Maximilian Goetz, Fabian Schiller and Jules Gounon helped Mercedes-AMG lock out the front row for a race in which it must beat BMW if it is to have any chance of retaining the IGTC manufacturers’ crown. 

Gounon will also be satisfied to see his main rival for the drivers’ title, Philipp Eng, starting down in eighth, while WRT’s other BMW – which features another contender in the shape of Dries Vanthoor – was pipped to third by Herberth Motorsport’s Porsche. 

That car jumped up the order in Q4 courtesy of Matteo Cairoli whose co-driver, Antares Au, now lines up well clear of the other IGTC Independent Cup protagonists. Championship leader Jonathan Hui (Sky Tempesta) starts 14th while Stephen Grove (Grove Racing) is two places further back. However, both were also beaten by SunEnergy1’s Mercedes-AMG, which is eligible to score class points in Abu Dhabi.

Elsewhere, Oliver Goethe (Garage 59) sensationally set the quickest individual time – 1m50.549s – on his GT3 debut in Q3. 

However, it was the collective efforts of Stolz, Grenier and Engel that proved decisive. Their #99 Mercedes-AMG, on average times at least, held provisional pole by just 0.019s before the final runs when Engel went up against Gounon. But what should have been a grandstand conclusion never materialised, and it was GruppeM’s entry that ultimately claimed top spot by a comfortable two-and-a-half tenths.

WRT’s #46 BMW started Q4 in third but slipped back a position thanks to Cairoli’s heroics. The Italian missed out on the fastest individual lap of all by 0.043s but still did just enough to demote the M4 after his co-driver Tim Heinemann had earlier underlined Herberth’s potential by setting Q3’s third quickest time.

GruppeM’s second entry featuring Lucas Auer plus Mercedes-AMG Young Driver Test winners Frank Bird and Lorenzo Ferrari head up row three but are unlucky not to be higher after just 0.032s covered positions third to fifth.

The first non-IGTC nomination, the #88 Garage 59 McLaren, rounded out the top six.

IGTC’s season finale goes green at 10:00 local time (06:00 GMT) on Sunday. Watch it live on SRO’s GT World YouTube channel.