The French IMSA Performance MATMUT team has won the fifth anniversary edition of the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai. After 24 hours of racing at the 5.390 kilometres long Dubai Autodrome circuit, its driver pairing of Raymond Narac, Patrick Pilet and Marco Holzer had racked up a total of 608 laps with the team’s Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Marco Holzer drove the car across the finish line. “My first ever outright win in a 24-hour race, a fantastic feeling”, said the German. Second place was taken by the Japanese Petronas Syntium Team with the BMW Z4 Coupé, driven by Nobuteru Taniguchi, Masataka Yanigada, Farique Hairuman, Johannes Stuck and Hiroki Yoshida. The Al Faisal Racing team with Abdulaziz Al Faisal, Claudia Hürtgen, Marko Hartung and Khaled Al Faisal took their BMW Z4 Coupé to third place overall.
- French Version below
The French IMSA Performance MATMUT team couldn’t have hoped for a better debut in the Dunlop 24H of Dubai. Their maiden participation in the first international motor racing event of the new year not only brought them pole position, but also a commanding outright victory with a margin of no less than three laps. Together with the BMWs, the IMSA Performance MATMUT team set the pace for most of the race, their car with starting number 66 never running outside the top three. “Of course, we had our little problems, but it is great having been able to bring victory home. I am particularly happy for Porsche and for our sponsor MATMUT”, said driver and team owner Raymond Narac. Patrick Pilet, who had qualified the car on pole position on Thursday, admitted to having had a difficult moment right after the start. “There was a driver of a smaller car who didn’t see me and hit the left rear wheel of my car. I was really worried then, but fortunately, the car turned out to be all right.”
The first eight hours saw a lot of action that involved some of the possible contenders for a podium finish. Among the early retirements were the Auto Racing Club Bratislava-Porsche (Miroslav Konopka/Oliver Morley/Sean Edwards/Richard Cvörnjek) and the Besaplast-Porsche (Franjo Kovac/Martin Tschornia/Kurt Thiim/Roland Asch/Sebastian Asch). The latter team that finished third in last year’s race was out of contention after their car caught fire on the main straight with Martin Tschornia behind the wheel, seven and a half hours into the race. The unfortunate driver escaped unscathed, but the car was damaged beyond immediate repair.
Last year’s winners, the number 1-Land Motorsport-Porsche (Gabriel Abergel/Xavier Pompidou/Carsten Tilke/Otto Klohs) was sidelined as well after Tilke had over-revved the engine. Almost at the same time, the number 148-AF Corse Ferrari (Robert Kaufmann/Michael Waltrip/Marcos Ambrose/Rui Aguas/Niki Cadei) became involved in a collision with another car. NASCAR-star Michael Waltrip, who drove his first-ever 24-hour race in Dubai, couldn’t avoid the collision when the other car started swerving in front of him. The Ferrari also incurred considerable damage and retired. Up to the time of the accident, the car had always been in the top ten, running as high as sixth at times.
In the opening half of the race, the pace was set by the two IMSA Performance Matmut-Porsches and the BMWs of the Petronas Syntium Team and Al Faisal Racing. However, the IMSA Performance Matmut-team 65’s hopes were dealt a severe blow when the clutch had to be replaced on the car in the twelfth hour of the race. Later on, the car was sidelined due to gearbox failure.
The Japanese Petronas Synthium team also raced in Dubai for the first time. They had their pair of BMW Z4s in the top five for most of the race, but the second car (Tatsuya Kataoka/Manabu Orido/Johan Adzmi/Kosuke Matsuura/Hiroki Yoshida) retired with half an hour remaining. A good performance was shown by the BMW Team Hungary with Efficient Dynamics. The BMW 120D driven by Lázlò Palik/János Vida/Csaba Walter/Gábor Weber finished eleventh overall out of the 75 participating cars, winning the D2-class for diesel-powered cars. The Hungarian Brokernet Silversting sportscar was also successful, winning the SP1 category with Kalman Bodis/Attila Barta/Istvàn Ràcz/Wolfgang Kaufmann driving for the Bovi Motorsport team. Leading the A3T-class, the SEAT Leon of the Spanish SUNRED team (Oscar Nogues/Michael Rossi/Ferran Monje/Borja Veiga) was in the top ten for a long time, but dropped back after a collision. Still, the SUNRED team scored a 1-2 in this class.
The German Black Falcon team that has won the title in the German Langstreckenmeisterschaft Nürburgring for the past two years also had a very successful debut in Dubai, winning the SP2-class with the BMW M3 (Vimal Metha/Sean Patrick Breslin/Sean Paul Breslin/Christer Jöns/Alexander Böhm) and the A4-class with the BMW Z4 Coupé (Oleg Volin/Andrii Lebed/Marc Colell/Kai Riebetz/Alexander Böhm). There was local success for the AUH Motorsport team that won the SP3-class with the Aston Martin Vantage, driven by Humaid Al Masaood/Alex Kapadia/Michael Prophet/Eric Charles. The A2-class brought victory for Team Sally Racing from Denmark, their Renault Clio driven by Anders Maigaard/Dan Brian Träger/Martin Sally Pederson/Brian Borger/Mick Reimerson. Victory in the D1 class, last but not least, went to the Marcos Racing International BMW 120D of Jim Briody/Hall Prewitt/Toto Lassally/Cor Euser.
The top three:
1. Narac/Pilet/Holzer (F/F/D), Porsche 997 GT3 RSR, 608 laps in 24.01.34.668
2. Taniguchi/Yanagida/Hairuman/Stuck/Yoshida (J/J/MAL/LIE/J), BMW Z4, 3 laps
3. Al Faisal/Hürtgen/Hartung/Al Faisal (KSA/D/D/KSA), BMW Z4, 5 laps
The class winners:
A2 # 89 Team Sally Racing Renault Clio
A3T # 74 Sunred 1 SEAT Leon Supercopa
A4 # 88 Team Black Falcon 2 BMW Z4 Coupé
A5 # 40 Petronas Synthium Team BMW Z4 Coupé
A6 # 66 IMSA Racing Performance Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
D1 # 112 Marcos Racing International 1 BMW 120D
D2 # 33 BMW Team Hungary with E.D. BMW 120D
SP1 # 168 Bovi Motorsport Brokernet Silversting
SP2 # 111 Team Black Falcon 1 BMW M3 E92
SP3 # 122 AUH Motorsports 2 Aston Martin Vantage GT4