Valentino Rossi, younger brother and fellow MotoGP rider Luca Marini and VR46 Riders Academy director Alessio ‘Uccio’ Salucci have qualified in eighth place for Saturday’s Gulf 12 Hours sportscar event.
The trio are back driving the Monster VR46 Kessel Ferrari 488 having won the ‘Pro-Am’ class and finished third overall in last winter’s Gulf 12 Hours, held in Abu Dhabi.
The race has been switched to another F1 venue, the Bahrain International Circuit, for this weekend, where the #46 car is one of six machines entered in the ‘Pro-Am’ class.
Assuming no problems for the pair of ‘Pro class’ entries, using McLaren 720S GT3s, the ‘Pro Am’ competitors should again be in contention for the final place on the overall rostrum.
A total of 12 cars (three drivers per team) are entered, across four different classes.
Qualifying saw each driver take part in a 15-minute session, with the average best lap time for each team then being used to determine the grid order.
Salucci was first out for VR46, setting the 7th fastest time with a 2m 2.289s. Marini was next on track in the second session, where he was ranked 5th with an impressive 2m 1.098s. Rossi then set a 2m 1.370s for seventh in the final session.
That gave the trio an average lap time of 2m 1.585s, which was only good enough for eighth on the grid, meaning they will need to fight their way forwards to repeat last year’s success.
Pole position went to the GT3 ‘Pro’ class car of Isa Bin Abdulla Alkhalifa, Ben Barnicoat and Martin Kodrić with an average time of 1m 59.716s. The Porsche 911 of Roberto Pampinini, Mauro Calamia and Stefano Monaco will start as the best of the GT3 ‘Pro-Am’ entries, in fourth place.
Saturday’s race will be divided into two six-hour stints. The first will take place in the daylight from 9.30am-3.30pm local time, followed by a night finale from 5.30pm-11.30pm.