Le Mans-style racing brings curtain down on superb year of motorsport at Yas Marina Circuit

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The last racing weekend of the year witnessed some of the most exciting on-track action as Yas Marina Circuit hosted the Gulf 12-Hour and Round 3 of Yas Racing Series.

The region’s most glamorous race – the Gulf 12-Hour – saw teams from across the globe battle it out in two six-hour rounds of racing on Saturday.

One of the world’s most challenging tracks, Yas Marina Circuit, tested the drivers to their limits during the two sessions which wonderfully evoked the spirit of the legendary Le Mans 24-hour race.

The #11 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 of Michael Broniszewski, Davide Rigon and Miguel Molina claimed the 2017 Gulf 12 Hours win after 12 hours of superb endurance racing.

This result gave Kessel their third straight win in the series, and Rigon his fourth, the first being with AF Corse in 2014.

YAS 2

It was a Ferrari 1-2 as Rinat Salikhov, Marco Seefried and Norbert Siedler in the #33 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 finished less than a minute behind the triumphant Kessel stallion, giving Rinaldi their first Gulf 12 Hours podium.

The top three was rounded off by the #17 Ultimate Ligier JS P3 LMP3 of Matthieu Lahaye, Jean-Baptiste Lahaye and François Hériau.

The weekend also played host to round three of the thrilling Yas Racing Series, featuring the single-make TRD 86 Cup, as well as the Formula 4 UAE Championship and MRF Challenge.

In a shock result 2016 TRD 86 Cup Champion Karim Al Azhari was knocked off the top spot in Round 3 and saw Saif Al Ameri charged into first place, closely followed by Hamdan Al Ghaferi and Al Azhari in third.

After three races Saif Al Ameri now leads the Championship with 100 points, followed closely by MAGH and Karim Al Azhari with 96 points apiece.

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F4UAE: Weerts, Caldwell, Petersson, Beckhäuser top podium in season opener at Yas

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First circuit racing win: For Tom Beckhäuser.

The 2017/18 F4UAE Championship powered by Abarth opened its second season with an impressive array of success as four different race winners graced the podium at Yas Marina Circuit this weekend.

Supporting the famed Gulf 12 Hours event, Round 1 of F4UAE also welcomed the all-new race winners – of both teams and drivers – as they attacked four 30-minute races around the 5.5km international layout at the Abu Dhabi circuit.

Having raced in the inaugural season of F4UAE, Belgium driver Charles Weerts (#88) returned to a relaunched Dragon Motopark F4 team by winning the opening race, which was also the Dubai-based racing team’s first victory in the category.

“It’s great to be back here in F4UAE. Knowing the circuit from last year and having the data was a big help so to get a race win is always a good feeling and gives a lot of confidence for the rest of the championship,” said Weerts. “It’s fun to see Tom (Beckhäuser) back here racing as well, after being in the rookie championship in Germany this year should be a good year with lots more battles.”

Weerts leading the pack during race 1.

Experienced international racer Olli Caldwell (#64) from the UK claimed his first victory in Race 2 with SILBERPFEIL Energy Dubai, his team-mate Lucas Petersson (#22) won Race 3 – his first in the category after debuting in the formula at the final round of our inaugural season.

“It’s been a fantastic weekend, from qualifying third and fourth, and then today the boys have been really good getting those wins,” said Kevin Day, team owner of SILBERPFEIL Energy Dubai.

“They’ve listened and learnt from everything their driver instructors have told them, kept improving their lap times, made the right moves to get to the front and they both walked away with race wins. We can’t complain at all.”

Czech racer Tom Beckhäuser (#95) claimed his first ever circuit racing win with CRAM Motorsport in Race 4.

“It’s amazing, it’s my first win ever in an FIA championship and it’s so great to do it here at Yas Marina Circuit, a legendary Formula 1 circuit,” said Beckhäuser.

“Generally, we’re getting more consistent, and I’m getting used tothe conditions here which are much different to Europe. I still have much to learn and I think this championship is the perfect place to do it.”

PRACTICE & QUALIFYING SUMMARY

Three and a half hours of testing and official practice on Thursday gave the newcomers ample track time to become acquainted with the internationally recognised circuit, with three rookies in the field making their official transition from karting to the Abarth-powered Tatuus F4UAE racecars.

Both SILBERPFEIL energy Dubai drivers swapped bragging rights early in practice, while Lucas Roy (#8) had a minor brush with a tyre barrier under the Yas Viceroy which was quickly repaired before qualifying.

First pole position of the 2017/18 season went to Charles Weerts for Dragon Motopark F4, their best qualifying effort since joining the category, with a time of 2m13.382s. Meanwhile the first ever female racer to compete in F4UAE, Logan Hannah (#92) for Dream Racing, qualified a credible eighth in what was her circuit racing debut.

RACING SUMMARIES

With nine drivers officially entered for the opening round of the season, Race 1 was dominated by both Weerts and Beckhäuser who swapped paint and laps in the lead throughout the 30-minute race. Weerts held the advantage by 6 seconds over the Czech racer at the chequered flag, getting his first race win in F4 internationally after having spent the summer months racing in the ADAC Formel 4 championship in Germany. Petersson rounded out the podium in third place, his second career podium in F4UAE.

Race 2 winner: Olli Caldwell.

Race 2 winner: Olli Caldwell.

Race 2 on Friday morning featured an inverted top-six starting position, with Rasgaira MOTORSPORT’s Petr Ptacek (#9) starting from pole position after Olli Smith (#3) withdrew from the weekend for on personal grounds. After an initial aborted start, Ptacek lead the field away as a three-way battle ensued between he and the two SILBERPFEIL Energy Dubai drivers of Petersson and Caldwell. Caldwell lead from the first lap while his teammate progressed from third place to first by lap nine. Petersson held on for his first career open-wheeler win with Caldwell second and Ptacek third by race’s end.

The race three grid was determined by each drivers’ second-fastest lap time in qualifying, giving Beckhäuser the start from pole alongside Weerts. However, the Czech driver stalled on the start and fell to the back of the field as the lights went out. Caldwell made the most grounds on lap one, getting to the lead and staying there for the full 30-minute race. Petersson challenged the frontrunners and ended up third, while Weerts maintained second.

GDL Racing’s experienced racer Mikhail Spiridinov (#67) and Logan Hannah came together in the latter part of the race, when the 16-year-old rookie attempted an overtaking manoeuvre. Hannah retired from the race despite having clocked her fastest lap time around the circuit all weekend.

The final 30-minute race saw another inverted top-six start with Roy on pole alongside Beckhäuser on the front row. Beckhäuser was too strong for the German driver and took the lead on the first lap, only to then be pursued by Weerts; a battle that carried throughout the entire weekend considering the two drivers had raced against each other in Germany last season. The CRAM Motorsport driver held on to get his first ever career win, ahead of Weerts and Ptacek getting another podium finish in third.

Hannah impressively finished three of her four races on debut, making up nearly two seconds a lap on her qualifying times by weekend’s end, while Spiridinov claimed the gentleman driver award for GDL Racing.

NEXT EVENT

Round 2 of the 2017/18 F4UAE Championship will be again held at Yas Marina Circuit, the Home of F4UAE, from January 19-20. The event marks the first of three back-to-back race weekends held between the Abu Dhabi circuit and Dubai Autodrome; a move which was designed to help reduce travel and logistics costs for international teams and drivers.

Final championship standings will be made available on www.f4uae.com in the coming days once signed off by category management.

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Le Mans-style endurance racing returns to Yas Marina Circuit with Gulf 12-Hours

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The Gulf 12-Hour race returns to the Yas Marina Circuit next week.

The glamour and excitement of around-the-clock racing returns to Yas Marina Circuit later this month with the Gulf 12-Hours.

The region’s most gruelling race will see multiple teams from across the globe pit themselves and their cars against each other in two rounds of racing, each lasting six hours, on December 16.

The Circuit will host qualifying rounds for the seventh edition of the Gulf 12-Hours on Friday, December 15, with the big race taking place the following day from 9:00.

Held in true endurance style, the Gulf 12-Hours features both daylight and floodlit races, with some of the most luxurious GT3 cars, including the AMG Mercedes, Lamborghini Huracan, Ferrari 458 and Aston Martin Vantage, tackling the twists and turns of Yas Marina Circuit.

The Lamborghini Huracan at last year's Gulf 12-Hours.

The Lamborghini Huracan at last year’s Gulf 12-Hours.

In a new addition to this year’s Gulf 12-Hours, a host of classic Formula 1 cars will also take to the track in the Gulf Historic series.

The Gulf 12-Hours is not the only motorsport action taking place over the weekend of December 15th and 16th.

The two days will play host to round three of the thrilling Yas Racing Series, featuring the TRD 86 Cup together with the Formula 4 UAE Championship and MRF Challenge.

These races, which feature some of the best young drivers, offer spectators the chance to see the budding F1 stars of the future compete against each other.

While the drama unfolds on the track, race fans will be able to indulge in a three-hour brunch at the Paddock Suite Belgian Café, which the brunch starts when guests arrive for a three-hour feast between noon and 20:00. With prices starting from Dh195 for food and soft drinks and Dh295 for food and hops, this is great way to celebrate the party season with friends and family and experience race day at Yas Marina Circuit.

Guests will also be able to enjoy unrestricted views of the cars as well as a great menu of festive Belgian favourites.

Graff Racing's car from the 2016 Gulf 12-Hours.

Graff Racing’s car from the 2016 Gulf 12-Hours.

The first of the two six-hour races that make up this year’s Gulf 12-Hours will be held on Saturday from 9:00 to 15:00 with race two following from 17:45 until 23.45. The winners will take to the podium at 11.55pm.

Tickets are available online at www.yasmarinacircuit.com or through the Yas Marina Circuit Call Centre (800 927) or +971 (0) 2 659 9800.

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