German team, Black Falcon, has scored its third outright win in the Hankook 24H DUBAI. In the tenth running of the international endurance race, the season opener of the 2015 24H SERIES powered by Hankook, Saudi-Arabian Abdulaziz Al Faisal, German Hubert Haupt, Dutchman Yelmer Buurman and Brit Oliver Webb completed 604 laps of the 5.39 kilometres long Dubai Autodrome with their Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 with starting number 2. In 2012 and 2013, the Black Falcon team had also won the race in Dubai, then under the ‘Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon’ banner. With three victories, Black Falcon is now the most successful team in history of the race. For Mercedes-Benz, it was the third race win in Dubai as well. Completing the success for the gullwing sports car, RAM Racing’s Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 (#30, Arya/Jäger/Onslow-Cole/Christodoulou) finished second, four laps down. UAE-based team Dragon Racing celebrated success by finishing third overall and winning the A6-Amateur class with its Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 (#88, Jawa/Grogor/Griffin/Barff).
In total, there were twelve changes in the overall lead with four different cars taking turns in the lead. The Black Falcon Mercedes-Benz led for a long time during the evening, then briefly lost it for five laps to the KPM Racing Aston Martin (#28, White/Mücke/Adam) due to a different pit stop sequence, but then took the lead for good on lap 276 and went on to take the chequered flag with Yelmer Buurman behind the wheel. “We had a trouble-free race, we didn’t have any contact with other cars and our car ran perfectly,” the Dutch driver said after his maiden victory in a 24-hour race. “With so many cars on the track, you have to be careful to avoid collisions and you have to plan your overtaking moves. Our team made the right decision in making a pit stop during the first ‘code 60’ at an early stage in the race and that helped us get in front. Many thanks to everyone involved, this is a fantastic start of the season!”
Behind the top three overall, the KPM Racing Aston Martin finished fourth and third in class A6 Pro, followed by the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN’s Nissan GTR GT3 (#23, Strauss/Sanchez/Bin Khanen/Hammann/Paletou). In spite of starting the race from the pit lane following a crash in practice and an overnight rebuilt of the Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 (#4, Pisarik/Jirik/Malucelli/Kox), Czech team, Scuderia Praha was still rewarded with sixth place overall and fourth place in the A6 Pro class.
As usual, there was plenty of attrition in the race, taking out several teams that were considered as contenders for top honours. For instance, the FACH AUTO TECH Porsche that started from pole position (#12, Klohs/Ragginger/Richter/Müller) led the field in the early stages, but lost time after the radiator broke and then retired due to a damaged undertray. The Swiss team’s sister car (#11, Wagner/Bruder/Keller/Arnold/Cairoli) retired after two collisions with the right rear suspension getting damaged on both occasions. Last year’s Dubai winners, Stadler Motorsport, saw its Porsche (#1, Ineichen/Ineichen/Amstutz/Engelhart) being sidelined with damaged suspension. The Hofor Racing Mercedes-Benz (#9, Kroll/Heyer/Frankenhout/Eggimann/Rehfeld) retired after hitting the Armco barrier in the opening hour. A collision and subsequent suspension damage while leading the race was the reason for retirement of the Abu Dhabi Racing Black Falcon Mercedes-Benz (#3, Al Qubaisi/Bleekemolen/Schneider/Simonsen).
To double up the success for the Black Falcon team, the German outfit also took the spoils in the Porsche Cup class with the fastest of its two 991 cars (#26, Fjordbach/Sawa/Al Faisal/Weishaupt) winning by a margin of only 10.301 seconds as the team’s second Porsche (#25, Schuring/Kaiser/Metzger/Raubach) completed the 1-2 for Black Falcon in this class. Australian team MARC Cars Australia came out on top in the SP2 class with its MARC Focus V8 (#91, Kassulke/Alford/Leemhuis/Padayachee/Elgammal) while the sister car (#92, Kaye/Al Hamad/McLedo/Karanfilovski/Fiore) completed the 1-2 for the team. British team, Optimum Motorsport, led the SP3 class for most of the race and eventually claimed the class win with its Ginetta G55 GT4 (#163, Hankey/Yoluc/Ellis/Barwick).
The best-placed touring car in the field was the Racing Divas by Las Moras BMW M235i Cup (#76, Braams/Van der Sloot/Uljee/Partl), with the three Dutch ladies and the German winning the CUP1 class in an excellent 23rd place overall. Racing under the ‘Mission Possible’ banner, four drivers who are normally confined to a wheelchair raced a Sorg Rennsport BMW M235 (#70, Engljähringer/Dilger/Smit/Speakman) and put in a fine performance to finish fifth in the CUP1 class.
There was also success for BMW in the A5 class with victory for German team, Hofor-Kuepperacing with its BMW E46 M3 Coupé (#75, Küpper/Kroll/Kroll/Toniutti/Prewitt). The United Arab Emirates-based Memac Ogilvy Duel Racing team led the A3T class all the way to claim victory with its SEAT Leon Supercopa (#95, Moutran/Moutran/Moutran/Quaife). A2 class honors went to Belgian team, VDS Racing Adventures with the Honda Civic Type-R (#117, Van der Straten/Paisse/Divoy/Close).