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Volkswagen seals TCE victory in Dubai for the second year in a row, Vortex V8 takes its first class win in the 24H SERIES, and PB Racing was the show stealer of A3 at the Hankook 24H DUBAI.
 
For the second year in a row, the 24H TCE SERIES season opener was conquered by a Volkswagen Golf GTI, Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Marlon Menden / Fabian Danz / Yannick Mettler / Stefan Tanner / Jérôme Ogay) this time emulating Liqui Moly Team Engstler to take both the overall and TCR-class victory at the 2019 Hankook 24H DUBAI.
 
Theirs was far from a dominant win, however, with five teams still well in contention for victory as night fell at the Dubai Autodrome. Ill fortune though would strike down all but one come the race’s end.
 
Overall (TCE) Top 3
 
  1. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Volkswagen, TCR) – 545 laps
  2. Bas Koeten Racing (#125, CUPRA, TCR) – 541 laps
  3. Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101, CUPRA, TCR) – 538 laps 
 
TCE Championship of the Continents Top 3  (after round 1)
  1. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Volkswagen, TCR) – 30 points
  2. G R motorsport (#603, BMW, A3) – 28 pointsfun-M Motorsport (#802, BMW, CUP1) – 28 points, Vortex V8 (#301, Vortex, SP3) – 28 points, Bas Koeten Racing (#125, CUPRA, TCR) – 28 points
 
TCR – Autorama benefits from late AC Motorsport fire
 
The first of the leading pack to disappear was Team Dynamics with WRC Developments (#138, James Kaye / Will and Henry Neal / Aaron Rhys Cameron / Jake Giddings). The British-based Audi RS3 LMS, an affiliate of the six-time British Touring Car Championship winning Team Dynamics, suffered massive front-end damage shortly after taking the lead in TCE eight hours in. After destroying the front end against the wall at turn 10, Team Dynamics was the first TCR retirement, a bitter blow for Will and Henry Neal, sons of three-time BTCC champion, Matt, who were making their series debuts.
 
Another shock retirement was the LMS Racing customer entry of Bas Koeten Racing (#129). The all-Finnish outfit – with reigning TCE Champions of the Continents Antti Buri and Kari-Pekka Laaksonen, and Olli Kangas on driver detail – was safely ensconced in the top two during the opening stages and even led intermittently before suffering oil pressure issues. Terminal drivetrain problems meant the Audi was pulled shortly after the halfway point.
 
The sister NKPP Racing Porsche 991 would also retire before the end of the race after a massive smash in turn nine (see GT report HERE), but 24H SERIES stalwart Bas Koeten Racing was able to salvage 2nd overall in TCE at the flag with the eponymously-entered CUPRA (#125). Incredibly, following contact with the BWT Muecke Motorsport Mercedes GT3, Ronny Jost, Julien Apotheloz, Loek Hartog and Oscar Graeper were stone last after a seven-minute pit stop to repair a broken shock absorber.
 
KCMG meanwhile (#122, Paul Ip / Hon Wah Kenneth Ma / Henry Lee Jr / Cheuk Wai Yan / Jim Ka to) suffered by far the most dramatic retirement of the TCE front runners. Having climbed from 6th on the grid, the TCR-spec ‘FK7’ Civic Type-R was running a comfortable 3rd after 14 hours when a fire quickly engulfed the rear end of the Honda. Cheuk Wai Yan managed to escape unharmed, and while the front end of the JAS Motorsport-built Civic appeared to escape unhurt, the rear-end was completely destroyed. A bitter disappointment, given the team’s travails with its Nissan GT-R fleet (again, read the GT report HERE), but an overall TCR fastest lap – 2m 11.863s – nevertheless demonstrated the new Honda’s raw pace.
 
That left only AC Motorsport (#188, Stephane Perrin / Vincent Radermecker / Tom Boonen / Gilles Magnus) to fall. The Belgian team, having set its second consecutive TCR pole position in Dubai, had pulled a lap clear of the Autorama Motorsport / Wolf-Power Racing Volkswagen with just four hours of the race left to the run, despite fuel pick-up problems costing the team time earlier on.
 
The team’s hopes were underdone 20 hours in when Tom Boonen pulled the heavily smoking Audi RS3 LMS into the pit lane. So thick was the smoke now swirling into the cabin that three-time Tour of Flanders and four-time Paris-Roubaix winner was forced to coast for almost half a lap with the driver’s side door open. Turns out that suspension failure at the rear right had caused tyre pick-up embedded in the wheel arch to ignite. The Audi RS3 LMS was eventually able to continue after a combined, hour-long pit stop, AC Motorsport was now way down in 5th, its chances of a class podium gone.
 
With Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112) now 1st and Bas Koeten Racing up to 2nd, 3rd in TCE eventually went to Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101, Ivo Breukers / Henry Littig / Cody Hill / Klaus Kresnik). The team’s brand new CUPRA TCR suffered right rear suspension failure after only four hours, and even – oh the shame – ran out of fuel on-track, but was able to recover time after consistent running through the night.
 
An early pit lane visitor, TFT / COGEMO / TLRT (#154, Bruno Bazaud / Denis Caillon / Sebastien Morales / Philippe Thirion / Jean-Lou Rihon) managed to claim 4th in-class, three laps clear of AC Motorsport, and despite losing almost half an hour to repair a broken gas pump. Further back, a quiet run for Team Work Motorsport (#100, Sunny Wong Yat Shing / Paul Poon Tak Chun / Alexander Fung Kar Chue / Alex Hui Ka Tai) netted 6th in-class, even though 30 minutes were lost after the third hour to replace a defective water pump on the Audi RS3 LMS.  
 
Much like last year’s Hankook 24H SILVERSTONE, J W BIRD Motorsport (#121, Paul Dehadray / Kieran and Liam Griffin / Philip House) fell back through the pack after early impressive pace. But while the Volkswagen Golf GTI was able to complete the race distance in the UK, the British team was not so lucky in the United Arab Emirates, the gearbox eventually “exploding” before half-distance after race-long drivetrain problems.
 
The British team was eventually classified 7th, just ahead of Zengō Motorsport (#133, Zoltan Zengo / Csaba Toth / Gabor Kismarty-Lechner / Gyorgy Kontra / Tamas Horvath). The Hungarian entry had been running solidly during the night, but ground to a halt entering turn nine mid-morning, the CUPRA’s engine ablaze and with coolant spilt all the way down the back straight. Unwittingly, the failure caused a high profile incident between CP Racing and Car Collection Motorsport.
 
TCR Top 3
 
  1. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Volkswagen) – 545 laps
  2. Bas Koeten Racing (#125, CUPRA) – 28 points
  3. Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101, CUPRA) – 26 points 
 
TCR Championship of the Continents Top 3  (after round 1)

 
  1. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Volkswagen) – 30 points
  2. Bas Koeten Racing (#125, CUPRA) – 28 points
  3. Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101, CUPRA) – 26 points 
 
SP3 – Heavy accidents cost CWS Engineering class win
  Few categories epitomised radiolemans.com’s ‘Spirit of the Race’ more than SP3 and A3, both which were struck with issues from the early going.
 
CWS Engineering (#378, Colin White / Steven Wells / Olivier Baron / Angus Fender), having taken the first TCE pole position of the season in Dubai, romped into an early lead at the drop of the green flag, comfortably lapping four to five seconds faster than the pursuing Vortex V8 Vortex Scirocco GC 10 (#301, Philippe Bonnel / Thomas Cordelier / Franck Lefèvre / Nicolas Nobs). Indeed, come nightfall and with the Scirocco having already lost 35 minutes in the pit lane replacing the mounting plate for the rear left control arm, Colin White’s eponymous Ginetta G55 had already built a 17-lap lead, despite White losing the team radio on lap three.
 
Trouble was just around the corner though. On lap 84, contact between the Ginetta and the MTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 sent both heavily into the wall at turn eight (both Bert de Heus and White’s teammate Olivier Baron emerged unhurt). The Mercedes’ front end was completely destroyed, but the Ginetta, recovered to the garage during the resultant Code 60, was able to continue after almost 90 minutes replacing the front end.
 
Incredibly, despite falling almost 40 laps behind new class leaders Vortex, and despite another hour being collectively spent on repairing both a collapsed diff mount and steering issues, the #378 Ginetta had worked its way back into the lead in SP3 as the 14th hour ticked by (the #301 Scirocco nosing into the barrier certainly helped).
 
Unfortunately, the time at the front was short-lived. Heading into turn one, Angus Fender, enjoying his first ever 24-hour race and his first time competing away from home, brought the Ginetta back to the pits with a “very worn” steering column and a destroyed front left tyre. A few hours later, Olivier Baron had his second on-track clash, this time against the turn 14 barriers, much to the chagrin of team owner, Colin White. “He’s trying too hard, so I think we’ll retire him for the day” the Brit explained. “If we’re here, we might as well keep racing.” Another 50 minutes were lost repairing the damage, the 23-lap deficit now too great to fight back from.
 
Despite its problems then, including heavy accident damage for the sister Vortex 01 (#701) in the SPX class, Vortex V8 finally managed to secure its first class win the 24H SERIES.
 
SP3’s third entrant meanwhile – Amag First Centri Porsche Ticino (#312, Michele Di Bona / Valerio Presezzi / Adriano Pan / Alessandro Baccani / Ivan Jacoma) – endured a brutal Dubai debut. Having completed just 20 laps in free practice, the field’s only Cayman GT3 CS suffered gearbox failure shortly before qualifying. The team’s weekend was over before the race had even started.
 
SP3 Top 3
 
  1. Vortex V8 (#301, Vortex) – 456 laps
  2. CWS Engineering (#378, Ginetta) – 445 laps
  3. Amag First Centri Porsche Ticino (#312, Porsche) – DNF 
SP3 Championship of the Continents Top 3  (after round 1)
 
  1. Vortex V8 (#301, Vortex) – 28 points
  2. CWS Engineering (#378, Ginetta) – 22 points
  3. Amag First Centri Porsche Ticino (#312, Porsche) – 0 points 
 
A3 and CUP1 – Lotus return derails in Dubai; deadlock in CUP1
  Even in a field bursting at the seams with distinctive liveries, few could better those of Lotus specialists, PB Racing. The first – the green and yellow #633 Elise PB-R (Vito Utzieri / Marco Fumagalli / Mauro Guastamacchia / Maurizio Fortina / Mark Speakerwas) – paid tribute to the famous Type 25 in which Jim Clark took his first Formula 1 World Championship in 1963. The sister #634 (Stefano D'Aste / Matteo Deflorian / Nicolò Liana / Michael Cordini) wore ‘Golf Leaf’-esque red and gold in homage to the Type 49B that secured Graham Hill and Jochen Rindt the ’68 and ’70 F1 titles respectively. Almost all eyes in A3 immediately honed in on the Lotus duo.
 
And with good reason. With fellow A3-entrant G & R Motorsport (#603, Danny and Karlo Van Dosselaer / Geert Houdhoofdt / Geert and Jasper Dierckx) focusing on race pace during qualifying, PB Racing’s #634 Elise took a commanding class pole position, many touting the Bergomo-based outfit – already a three-time class podium finisher from its three previous visits to Dubai – as the team to beat. Indeed, PB Racing would ultimately continue its podium streak with 2nd and 3rd in-class, but not without considerable effort.
 
Having climbed up to 11th overall in TCE and pulled a three-lap lead over its sister car, the #634 Lotus lost almost 40 minutes in the garage after receiving a heavy clout from an unidentified GT3 car. The #633 took over the lead, only for a broken driveshaft and, subsequently, gearbox failure – something that had already eliminated the green machine from qualifying the previous day – quashing any hope the team had of the #633 taking victory. Brutally, just over 30 minutes later, the sister #634 Lotus was back in the pits too.  The earlier GT3 clash had ruptured the water pump and broken a compressor belt, necessitating a brand new engine.
 
“We tried to go ahead with these issues, but after six hours, unfortunately the engine was done,” explained team operator and former World Touring Car Championship Independents champion, Stefano D'Aste. “24-hour racing is always really long, but when you start immediately with a crash, it’s not great.”
 
After a long, LONG race, the PB Racing Lotuses eventually finished 52 laps adrift in 2nd and 3rd, the #634 losing more then seven hours to the engine change, and the sister #633 spending almost 10 hours to persistent gearbox, clutch and electrical problems. Despite an enormously frustrating race, both cars had just enough steam left to complete the final lap of the Dubai Autodrome. Few could deny the two most eye-catching and weathered cars on-track had fully deserved their ‘Spirit of the Race’ award, as voted for by radiolemans.com’s listeners worldwide.
 
Even despite its own issues – including early front end damage and 15 minutes of studious work under the bonnet at three-quarter distance – the G & R Motorsport BMW E46 M3 thus came through to take its first A3-class win in the 24H SERIES.
 
In CUP1 meanwhile, less than one minute separated fun-M Motorsport (#802, Simon Klemund / Paul Sieljes / Christopher Rink / Ioannis Smyrlis / Harald Rettich) and former class champions DUWO Racing (#840, Frederic and Nicolas Schmit / Jean-Marie Dumont / Thierry Chkondali / Youssef Bassil) after the first six hours. Indeed, the latter had secured CUP1 pole position by a ludicrously slim 0.082s the day before, and while both led intermittently throughout the opening few hours, a 20-minute pit stop for fun-M Motorsport finally broke the deadlock at quarter-distance.
 
Where PB Racing had been unable to fight back against time lost though, fun-M Motorsport ultimately benefitted from an electrical issue that cost DUWO Racing 40 minutes in the garage. Having pulled three laps clear, the #840 BMW M235i Racing Cup was now seven laps adrift with ‘only’ five hours of the race remaining. It was a brutal blow for the Luxembourg outfit after a largely fault-free run, though fun-M Motorsport’s victory was no less hard-earned.
 
A3 Top 3
 
  1. G & R motorsport (#603, BMW) – 435 laps
  2. Lotus PB Racing (#634, Lotus) – 383 laps
  3. Lotus PB Racing (#633, Lotus) – 262 laps 

CUP1 Top 2
 
  1. fun-M Motorsport (#802, BMW) – 502 laps
  2. DUWO Racing (#840, BMW) – 499 laps 
 
A3 Championship of the Continents Top 3  (after round 1)
 
  1. G & R motorsport (#603, BMW) – 28 points
  2. Lotus PB Racing (#634, Lotus) – 22 points
  3. Lotus PB Racing (#633, Lotus) – 16 points 

CUP1 Championship of the Continents Top 2  (after round 1)
 
  1. fun-M Motorsport (#802, BMW) – 28 points
  2. DUWO Racing (#840, BMW) – 22 points 
 
*You can check out the GT race story HERE, as well as the overall TCE Championship of the Continents standings HERE. Full results from the 2019 Hankook 24H DUBAI are available HERE.
 
 


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