· WRT takes 1-2 finish; Audi’s third event win; Saudi Arabia back on the top step with ‘MS7’ and Mohammed Bin Saud Al Saud.
· CP Racing and MP Motorsport take close-fought wins in GT3-Am and GT3-P/A.
· 1-2 finish for Team GP-Elite in 992-PRO; 1-3 for HRT Performance in 992-AM.
· Audi R8 LMS GT2 takes maiden win in GTX: Dragon Racing takes decisive GT4 victory.
· First win for Thailand’s BBR in TCR; bad luck strikes AC Motorsport.
Words – James Gent
Images – Petr Frýba
For the first time since 2018, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was represented on the overall top step of the Hankook 24H DUBAI when MS7 by WRT emerged victorious from a race-long battle with its sister WRT-entered Audi R8 LMS.
The polesitting #7 ‘MS7’ Audi and the sister #31 WRT R8 led a combined 511 of the completed 596 laps, the lead repeatedly bouncing between them across a full day of racing at the Dubai Autodrome (37 lead changes were clocked). A more aggressive pit strategy for the MS7 machine though eventually proving the deciding factor decisive, the #7 eventually pulling a two-minute lead in the closing stages, ushering Mohammed Bin Saud Al Saud, Christopher Mies, Thomas Neubauer and Dries Vanthoor to their first respective event wins, and Zimbabwe’s Axcil Jefferies to his second in succession.
2nd for the sister #31 Audi, which crossed the line just a few car lengths behind the #7 in a photo finish, signed off a stellar weekend for two-time Hankook 24H DUBAI event winner, WRT.
Brutal bad luck saw Barwell Motorsport (#77), which intermittently held the lead outright well into the closing stages, lose an almost certain podium when terminal electrical issues struck the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 just four hours from home. That left the Mercedes-AMGs of Haupt Racing Team (#4), recovering from an early puncture, and SPS automotive performance (#75) to battle it out for the spoils, Manuel Metzger and Maro Engel doing just that in a fantastic on-track dice heading into the final two hours, HRT / Metzger eventually getting the better of SPS / Engel.
All, as it turned out, for nought, as the #4 HRT Mercedes was forced to make a splash-and-dash five laps from home, handing the final podium spot back to SPS automotive. Ironically, at that moment, the same thing was also happening behind the top four, Oman’s Al Manar Racing by HRT (#777) the beneficiary of a late fuel stop that pushed 2017 event winner Herberth Motorsport (#92) back down to 6th inside the closing 15 minutes.
Still, 6th overall was a more than deserved result for Herberth Motorsport, the Porsche’s typically metronomic run a stark contrast to that of the sister #91 911 GT3 R, which failed to make the start at all after a heavy coming together with PPM’s CUPRA TCR (#103) during Wednesday’s private test (repairs meant the latter missed qualifying altogether, though the CUPRA did manage to start the complete the full race-distance en-route to 7th in TCR).
A staggeringly slim 1.5 seconds behind 7th-placed Attempto Racing (#99), GT3-AM winner CP Racing (#85) emerged victorious in a race-long battle with the second SPS automotive Mercedes (#20), the latter of which fielded Saudi Arabia’s first accredited female racing driver Reema Juffali on its driver line-up. Former outright event winner Car Collection Motorsport meanwhile (#34) recovered from early suspension issues to finish 3rd in GT3-AM. A fitting sign-off for 24H SERIES staple Gustav Edelhoff in his last 24-hour race.
GT3-P/A class winner MP Motorsport (#19) rounded out the overall top 10, with Team Joos Sportwagentechnik (#27) and Herberth’s third entry – a collaborative event with former CUP1 and 991 champion DUWO Racing (#93) – following the Mercedes home on the road to round out the GT3-P/A podium.
GP-Elite signed off a stunning weekend in Dubai with a 1-2 in 992-PRO, the orange #934 Porsche, fittingly, running like clockwork to lead home the sister #933 GT3 Cup. But while Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#909) rounded out the 992-PRO podium, FACH Auto Tech had a weekend to forget in Dubai: the after-effects of a collision with the razoon KTM at turn one ultimately led to the retirement of the Swiss team’s #961 Porsche, while a heavy brush with the turn seven tyre barrier shortly after daybreak dropped the ‘Brazilian’ #962 out of the 992-PRO podium fight.
A likely 991 victory for series debutant Red Ant Racing (#903) sadly disappeared shortly after half-distance with gearbox failure, and a metronomic run from NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten (#991) was consequently rewarded with the Dutch team’s second successive class win in Dubai. Ironically, 2021 991 Teams’ champion Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors (#955) also lost an early shot at victory when the Porsche 991-II Cup ground to a halt at turn 16 with transmission issues. An hour in the pits, plus contact leading to a broken suspension arm, was not enough though to deny the Romanian-Italian collaboration a hard-earned 2nd in-class.
Red Ant Racing could at least celebrate a hard-earned 2nd in-class in 992-AM, the Belgian team’s #904 Porsche crossing the line sandwiched between HRT Performance’s victorious #929 and the sister #928 (recurrent ABS issues eliminated HRT’s #931 entry early). The latter, admittedly, was lucky to finish at all after an early collision with CWS Engineering (#278) at turn one ripped the left rear tyre completely off the HRT Porsche. The Ginetta stopped on-track a few laps later, handling and suspension issues eventually dropping CWS to 10th in TCX.
PK Carsport (#704) took the first 24H SERIES win for a GT2-spec Audi R8 in GTX after a lengthy battle with Leipert Motorsport (#710), the Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo eventually dropping out of contention when race-long fuel feed issues struck during the closing two hours. Despite earlier brake and suspension issues of its own, as well as a clash with 2011 Hankook 24H DUBAI winner Schubert Motorsport five hours in – the latter making its first event start in five years with a new BMW M4 GT3 – then-reigning GTX Teams’ champion Vortex V8 (#701) continued its 2021 podium run with 3rd in-class.
The final GTX podium spot had looked set to go to series debutant razoon-more than racing (#714), despite its turn one collision with FACH AUTO, before a race-ending collision with DINAMIC Motorsport’s second Porsche 991 GT3 R (#67) during the night eliminated the KTM. The incident also closed the book on a miserable weekend for the Italian team, which had already lost its #54 Porsche against the barriers at turn 16.
Dragon Racing (#408) romped to a decisive win at its home event with its Mercedes-AMG GT4, followed home closely by Heart of Racing’s Aston Martin Vantage (#423) and the RHC Jorgensen-Strom by Century BMW M4 GT4 (#450), the latter of which led home the sister Century Motorsport entry. Dubai was not, however, a happy hunting ground for 2020 Overall GT Teams’ ‘Continents’ champion Team Avia Sorg Rennsport: the German team’s BMW M4 GT4, having already stopped on pit entry with a broken axle, ended its race during the night against the turn nine barriers.
BBR (#159) had a dream start to a lucrative season with its first 24H SERIES win in Dubai – the first category win for a Thai team in series history – albeit with some help from former Dubai TCE winner AC Motorsport (#188). A comfortable lead was snatched away from the Audi RS 3 LMS at two-thirds distance when a shock absorber mount failed, the Belgian team nevertheless recovering to take a bittersweet runners-up spot.
Problems similarly befell TCR polesitter Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#116). The then-reigning Overall TCE Teams’ champion, making its first start with the new Audi RS 3 LMS, ran consistently in the TCE top three until its gearbox failed during the night, the hours lost in the garage eventually dropping the RS 3 to 6th in-class. Ironically, the beneficiary was Autorama’s #112 Volkswagen Golf, which recovered from its own maladies – a heavy hit against the turn one barrier late on Friday evening – to take the final TCR podium spot ahead of the Swiss team’s third entry (#111), itself having been delayed by fuel feed issues.
Autorama’s issues ultimately meant TCE polesitter Les Deux Arbres (#202) rounded out the overall TCE podium en-route to a commanding class win in TCX, the Ligier JS2 R heading home the BMW M2 CS Racings of COGEMO/TLRT (#255) and Yeeti Racing (#208). In contrast, a strong opening from TCE front row start LAMERA GT (#222), a bizarre collision with the #116 Autorama Motorsport Audi in the closing moments of qualifying, quickly fizzled: the French sports car lost drive on pit entry after seven hour, and later crawled to a halt with gearbox issues early on Saturday morning. Sadly, the sister ‘LAMERA GT LUX’ (#223) entry didn’t even wait that long, the French sports car hitting trouble after just 15 minutes.
Alongside historic wins for MS7 by WRT and BBR, the 2022 Hankook 24H DUBAI also marked the first use of CREVENTIC’s three-tier qualifying system and Lumirank’s in-car display system.
Top 3 (GT)
1. MS7 by WRT (#7, Audi R8 LMS GT3) – GT3 – 596 laps
2. WRT (#31, Audi R8 LMS GT3) – GT3 – 595 laps
3. SunEnergy1 by SPS automotive performance (#75, Mercedes-AMG GT3) – GT3 – 593 laps
Top 3 (TCE)
1. BBR (#159, CUPRA TCR) – TCR – 541 laps
2. AC Motorsport (#188, Audi RS 3 LMS) – TCR – 533 laps
3. Les Deux Arbres (#202, Ligier JS2 R) – TCX – 531 laps
GT3 – MS7 by WRT (#7, Audi R8 LMS GT3) – 596 laps
GT3-P/A – MP Motorsport (#19, Mercedes-AMG GT3) – 584 laps
GT3-AM – CP Racing (#85, Mercedes-AMG GT3) – 587 laps
GTX – PK Carsport (#704, Audi GT2) – 562 laps
992-PRO – Team GP-Elite (#934, Porsche 992 GT3 Cup) – 576 laps
992-AM – HRT Performance (#929, Porsche 992 GT3 Cup) – 565 laps
991 – NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#991, Porsche 991-II Cup) – 559 laps
GT4 – Dragon Racing (#408, Mercedes-AMG GT4) – 548 laps
TCR – BBR (#159, CUPRA TCR) – 541 laps
TCX – Les Deux Arbres (#202, Ligier JS2 R) – 531 laps
Pole position: MS7 by WRT, 1m 58.684s (GT); Les Deux Arbres, 2m 09.724s (TCE)
Fastest lap: Mirko Bortolotti, Barwell Motorsport, 1m 59.110s (GT); Bobby Thompson, CWS Engineering, 2m 09.775s (TCE)