The Need for Speed-Schubert team from Oschersleben, Germany has won the sixth running of the Dunlop 24H of Dubai, the first international endurance race of the year for GTs, touring cars and 24H specials. After 24 hours of racing at the 5.390 kilometres long Dubai Autodrome, Claudia Hürtgen drove the car across the finish line. The team had with Hürtgen, Augusto Farfus, Edward Sandström and Tommy Milner racked up a total of 594 laps with the BMW Z4 GT3. This success makes BMW the most successful car brand in history of the Dunlop 24H of Dubai with a total of three race wins following earlier successes in 2006 and 2007. Second place in this year’s race was taken by the Italian AF Corse team with Eppe Perazzini, Michal Broniszewski, Lorenzo Case and Marco Cioci driving the Ferrari F430 GT2. The Black Falcon team with Thomas Jäger, Kenneth Heyer, Jan Seyffarth and Sean Paul Breslin ended up third with their Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG.
For Claudia Hürtgen, driving the car across the start and finish line was an emotional experience: “We came close to victory here two years ago, but then we had an accident in the closing stages and ended up second. Now I have finally scored my maiden victory in a 24-hour race. In that last few laps, I started hearing many strange noises, but fortunately, we were able to make it home. Fantastic!” Tommy Milner admitted to having had one scary moment during his final stint: “I slightly touched another car, but fortunately, that didn’t cause any damage.”
The Need for Speed-Schubert BMW Z4 was in the lead for first time after five hours and then came back on top again during the seventh hour. After that, the four drivers remained in first place throughout the race. “We had trouble-free running all race long”, said Augusto Farfus. The Brazilian, the second-most successful driver in the history of the FIA World Touring Car Championship, tied at 15 wins together with Gabriele Tarquini, was drafted in as a late-minute addition to the team, stepping in for Swede Patrick Söderlund, who was prevented from driving due to a neck injury. For Farfus, this is his second outright win in a 24-hour race within eight months after his success in the Nürburgring 24-hour race with the BMW works team last year. “I got the phone call from BMW just before Christmas and I am happy that I was given this opportunity”, he said. Edward Sandström summed it up: “Starting the new year with a race win is as good as it gets!”
Second place overall for the AF Corse Ferrari team was consolation for the Italian outfit after they had lost their number 6-car (Waltrip/R. Kaufmann/Aguas/Griffin) following a fire in the engine bay during warm-up. The sixth running of the Dunlop 24H of Dubai also marked the 24-hour debut for the brand-new Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. Three of the gullwing-sportscars were entered for the event. The number 8- Black Falcon car (Schall/Pappas/Curtis/Horn) lost its chances of a good result due to a collision on Friday evening. Its sister car with starting number 7 and the Heico Motorsport entry (Schneider/Bosi/Arnold/ Frankenhout/Wirth) also had some incidents, but all in all, everyone involved with the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG project looked back upon the maiden 24-hour race with a positive feeling.
Porsche teams probably had more than their fair share of trouble in this year’s Dunlop 24H of Dubai. The number 1-car, entered by Gianluca De Lorenzi Racing (De Lorenzi/Borghi/Paletto/Ragginger) had been among the top three and even leading the race for quite a while in the evening, but then, Martin Ragginger heavily damaged the car after he got off the road following a collision during an overtaking manoeuvre. The driver himself escaped unscathed. The Land-Porsche (Tilke/Münnich/Lauck/ Land), the two FACH-Porsches number 12 (Lusser/Dolenc/ Arnold/Gruber/Bruder) and number 14 (Klohs/Bader/Spautz/Gruber/Bruder) and the Hermes-Attempto car (Häring/Konstantinou/Heyrowsky/Armindo/Aka) all had various technical issues and dropped back considerably or retired altogether, while the Tolimit-Arabia-entry (Al Qubaisi/Maassen/J.Bleekemolen/Edwards) lost time due to a broken driveshaft. Eventually, the Tolimit-Arabia-Porsche (Al Qubaisi/Maassen/J.Bleekemolen/ Edwards) ended up as the best-placed Porsche team in the final result, fourth overall. Victory in the special category for Porsche 996 and 997 Cup cars went to the number 33-De Lorenzi Racing car (Formili Fendi/Parato/Piodi/ Mastronardi).
The SP2 class saw an undisputed win for the Brokernet Silversting of the Hungarian Bovi Motorsport team (Bodis/Kaufmann/Racz/Van Lagen/Konopka), while Dutch sportscar manufacturer Donkervoort claimed top honours in the SP3 class (Donkervoort/De Bruijn/Wintenberger) with the Valspar-Donkervoort team. In A3T, there was a lights-to-flag win for the Dutch JR Motorsport team with its BMW E46 GTR (Van den Bos/Van der Zweer/De Vries/Hilders/Poland). The A4 class, on the other hand, saw various changes in the lead, after which Duwo Racing (Dumont/Schmitt/Schmitt/Orel/Jones) eventually claimed the class win with the BMW 130i Challenge. In A2, the French Auto Sport GP team scored a relatively easy win with their Renault Clio (Mulot/Grifnee/Vericel), while top honours in the D1 diesel class went to the Jordans.nl-Red Camel Team (Breukers/Thijssen/Dijkhof/Han/ Herter) with the SEAT Leon TDI.
In a charity campaign during the race, drivers and team members raised a total of 15,000 Euros which will be donated to the Dutch Cancer Society.