At the 2021 Hankook 24H DUBAI, GPX Racing became the second Emirati team to take an outright win at the event, the Haupt Racing Team picked up where Black Falcon left off with a class win, NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing took its second ‘991’ class win in the 24H SERIES, and TOPCAR Sport and PK Carsport took TCR and TCX honours respectively. But did you know…?
In 2021, GPX Racing made history for several reasons at the Hankook 24H DUBAI. As well as being only the second Emirati team to take outright victory after Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon in 2012 and 2013, GPX Racing took a record-extending sixth win for Porsche at the event after VIP Pet Foods (2008), Land Motorsport (2009), IMSA Performance Matmut (2010), Stadler Motorsport (2014), and Herberth Motorsport (2017). Yep, six different teams. Apt, right?
Look past GPX’s accomplishment though and 2nd placed WRT, 3rd placed HRT Bilstein, and 4th placed GRT Grasser Racing Team also added their names to the event’s illustrious heritage. The Porsche-Audi-Mercedes-Lamborghini quartet marked only the third time in Hankook 24H DUBAI history that four different manufacturers have finished in the overall top four places at the event. The first came in 2011, when Need for Speed Schubert’s BMW Z4 GT3 was followed home by AF Corse’s Ferrari F430 GT2, Black Falcon’s Mercedes SLS AMG GT3, and Tolimit Arabia’s Porsche 911 GT3 R. The next came two years later when Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon’s Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 beat AF Corse’s Ferrari 458 GT3, Craft Racing AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3 and FACH AUTO TECH’s Porsche 997 GT3 R.
In a bizarre coincidence, GPX Racing and Abu Dhabi Racing by Black Falcon both completed 600 laps en-route to their respective wins.
Herberth Motorsport’s 2021 Hankook 24H DUBAI, regrettably, did not go well. The lead #91 Porsche, the reigning GT3-PRO Teams’ champion no less, lasted just 60 laps before a collision with the DINAMIC MOTORSPORT Porsche led to a broken right rear wishbone. Suspension issues also took out the sister #92 991 GT3 R, which had started from pole position. The Bavarian team’s third entry admittedly did at least last the difference, but lost 40 minutes in the pits during the night and could only manage 11th overall.
If Herberth Motorsport’s race was ultimately underwhelming, Alfred and Robert Renauer can still be proud that their #92 Porsche, driven by Sven Müller, set the fastest pole time ever at the Hankook 24H DUBAI, with a 1m 56.553s. This is 0.163s faster than Mirko Bortolotti’s 1m 56.716s pole lap for GRT Grasser Racing Team in 2018.
Runner-up WRT also made Hankook 24H DUBAI history when Dries Vanthoor posted a 1m 58.149s on lap 328, the quickest tour of the Dubai Autodrome we’ve seen since Mirko Bortolotti’s 1m 58.199s fastest lap in 2018.
With his second outright win at the Hankook 24H DUBAI, France’s Alain Ferté now joins Philipp Peter, Dieter Quester, Sean Edwards, Abdulaziz al Faisal and Yelmer Buurman as a two-time outright winner of the event. Though not an outright record holder (yet?), the 1980 French Formula 3 champion does at least hold the unique distinction of winning every Hankook 24H DUBAI he has competed in.
Before his win with GPX Racing this year, Ferté made his event debut in 2016 alongside Stuart Leonard, Michael Meadows and Laurens Vanthoor in the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS Evo. The quartet would go on to take Audi’s first Hankook 24H DUBAI win that weekend.
No pressure in 2022 Alain!
Dubai’s annual 24-hour race has not been the happiest of hunting grounds for the Dodge Viper. On the model’s first appearance in 2013 with Manor MP Motorsport, the Viper lasted just 168 of the completed 600 laps. One year later, things improved when the MP Motorsport Competition Coupe went 344 laps and, while the Dutch team still retired, the Viper was still classified 5th in the SP2-GT3A class.
After a brief hiatus, a series 2 Dodge Viper Competition Coupe, now entered by Eurotrac by Bas Koeten lasted just six laps at the Hankook 24H DUBAI. In 2021, Team Zakspeed would fair slightly better, but the SRT Viper GT3 would succumb to gearbox problems after just 56 laps.
If you combine all four of the Dodge Viper’s outings in Dubai, that 574-lap total is greater only than five Hankook 24H DUBAIs, notably 2006 (519 laps), 2007 (567 laps), 2008 (504 laps), 2009 (573 laps), and, unsurprisingly, 2020 (168 laps).
Like the Dodge Viper, McLaren’s history at the Hankook 24H DUBAI is a storied albeit troubled one. In 2013, Lapidus Racing, winner of the previous year’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA, took its MP4-12C to 10th overall and 6th in-class in ‘A6-PRO’ at the Hankook 24H DUBAI. A solid outing, one that, unfortunately, the next McLaren runner – ALFAB Racing – couldn’t replicate when its 570S GT4 expired with electrical issues just over half distance in 2018.
Fast forward to 2021 and Inception Racing by Optimum Motorsport, thanks to heavy suspension repairs, rounded out the top 10 on the series debut of the 720S GT3. While that may sound disappointing, bear in mind that Optimum McLaren finished 5th in GT3-AM – one place higher than Lapidus – and, thanks to 25 laps at the sharp end during the second hour, holds the unique distinction of being the only McLaren to ever lead laps outright at the Hankook 24H DUBAI.
To say Marcel Leipert’s eponymous outfit is a stalwart of the 24H SERIES would be an almost sarcastic understatement: the German team was on the grid for CREVENTIC’s first ever endurance event in 2006 sporting a Ford Fiesta, and since then has secured eight class wins as well as the outright 24H SERIES Continents Overall GT Teams’ championship in 2019. This season started off quite well too, Leipert Motorsport securing its second class win at the Hankook 24H DUBAI in three years.
Neither of those were the first victories for Leipert Motorsport in Dubai though. That actually came at the third running of the event in 2008 when two Rhino's 2 Leipert Motorsport Ford Fiestas finished 1-2 and just 6.434s apart in the A1 class.
That 11-year gap between Leipert Motorsport’s first class win in Dubai in 2008 and its most recent in 2021 is equalled only by five-time winner Black Falcon, which took its first class victory in 2007 and signed off its GT3 customer program with a win last year.
Given that ST Racing took its second consecutive GT4 pole position at the Hankook 24H DUBAI, this accolade, arguably, arrived one year later than expected. Still, better late than never…
Having taken a three-lap victory in the GT4 class over PROsport Racing, ST Racing became the first Canadian team to ever take a class win in the 24H SERIES. Aptly, the Ontario-based squad was also the first boasting the Maple Leaf to take a class podium in the 24H SERIES – 3rd in GT4 – at the 2019 Hankook 24H COTA USA.
In doing so, Canada becomes the 32nd different nation to take a class win in the 24H SERIES. We’ll spare you the full list, but among the most prolific nations to-date include Germany, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Switzerland. Interestingly, even the Ukrainian, Slovakian, Lithuanian, and South Korean teams have class wins to their name.
Incredible as it seems, prior to 2021, no driver had taken more than one TCR-class podium finish at the Hankook 24H DUBAI (let alone a win) since the category was introduce for 2016. After this year’s race though, that’s all changed, with SEVEN drivers – Kari-Pekka Laaksonen, Yannick Mettler, Marlon Menden, Jérôme Ogay, Ronny Jost, Benjamin Leuchter and Fabian Danz – finishing in the TCR top three for a second time in Dubai.
Of those seven, only Benjamin Leuchter and former 24H SERIES Europe Overall GT Drivers’ champion Fabian Danz took their second TCE win in Dubai this year. Leuchter’s first came aboard the Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR in 2017, while Danz took his first with Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing’s own VW one year later.
After a metronomic run from both teams, TOPCAR Sport’s winning margin over Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing could hardly have been closer after 24 hours of racing, the #131 CUPRA completing 543 laps with the #112 Volkswagen barely two and a half minutes behind on 542 laps. That’s the shortest winning margin yet for a TCR or A3T touring car at the Hankook 24H DUBAI.
Between 2020 and 2016, the closest ‘TCR’ wins was the two-lap margins between AC Motorsport and the Lestrup Racing Team in 2020, Liqui Moly Team Engstler and LMS Racing by Bas Koeten Racing in 2018, and Cadspeed Racing with A Tech and Modena Motorsports in 2017. In the A3T ranks meanwhile, prior to TCR’s introduction for 2016, the narrowest gap was the three laps between Racingdivas Team Schubert’s BMW 320D and Motorsport Services’ SEAT León Supercopa in 2014.
Though luck may not have been on the British team’s side in Dubai this year, CWS Engineering nevertheless walked away with 2nd in-class behind maiden TCX class winner, PK Carsport. That’s the latest in a pretty impressive run so far.
In 2016, Colin White’s eponymous team took 2nd in SP3 behind Century Motorsport, and while 4th in 2017 was a fall from grace, CWS Engineering managed to get both of its Ginetta G55s onto the SP3 podium in 2018 – 1st and 3rd – en-route to that year’s 24H SERIES Europe SP3 Teams’ championship. 2nd place in-class in 2019 and 2020 may sting a bit, given that CWS was on TCE pole on both occasions. Still, that’s still six podium finishes for the team in six outings in Dubai. Few teams can boast that kind of record.
- Words – James Gent
- Images – Petr Frýba