On its tenth entry at the Hankook 24H DUBAI, a difficult weekend for Team Avia Sorg Rennsport, including several high-impact collisions, was rewarded with 5th in the GT4 class.
On its 10th entry in the Hankook 24H DUBAI, Team Avia Sorg Rennsport took a hard-earned 5th in the GT4 class after a tough event saw the 2020 ‘Continents’ Overall GT Teams’ champion fight back from accident damage and a broken rear axle.
Sorg Rennsport entered the 24H SERIES season opener for the first time with two BMW M4 GT4s, but the weekend got off to a difficult start when the #452 entry – collectively driven by Benito Tagle, Francisco Sapien, Dmytro Ryzhak, Hans Joachim Theiß, and the UAE’s Ahmed Al Melaihi – hit the tyre barriers hard during unofficial testing on Monday. While the driver walked unharmed, the damage required extensive repairs and a change of the 3-litre six-cylinder engine.
Ironically, with the #452 BMW repaired, the mechanics had yet another massive rebuild to complete when Olaf Meyer hit the barriers at turn nine during Free Practice in the sister #451 M4 GT4. Again, Meyer, who teamed with countrymen Stefan Beyer and Stephan Epp, Denmark’s Michael Nielsen, and 2020 Overall GT Drivers’ champion Björn Simon at the Dubai Autodrome, escaped uninjured, though exhaustive repairs meant the #451 was only back in action during Friday morning warm-up.
Having missed qualifying altogether, the #451 BMW, with Simon at the wheel, started on the very back row of the GT grid. The #452 M4 meanwhile qualified 7th in-class after consistent runs from Ryzhak, Theiß and Al Melaihi.
Though Sorg Rennsport managed to avoid issues during the opening 40 minutes of the race, during which Simon climbed to 7th in-class, the #451 lost 30 laps shortly afterwards with rear axle issues, a consequence of the car’s accident one day earlier. The #451 would later be brought back into the garage with an overheating engine heading into the final 90 minutes of the Hankook 24H DUBAI, but a clean run throughout Friday afternoon and during the night meant the #451 BMW was still able to return to the track and salvage 5th in-class after a tough event.
The #452 M4, sadly, was less fortunate. Having at one-point climbed to 5th in-class, the second entry’s race was brought to a premature close when Theiß hit the wall hard at turn nine shortly after one-third distance.
Despite extensive repairs, team manager and co-founder Benjamin Sorg was quick to praise the team’s herculean efforts that had went into a hard-fought top five finish in GT4.
“Due to multiple serious accidents with both cars, it was an extremely busy week with little sleep,” Benjamin explained in an official team statement. “The almost complete rebuild of the #452 [went] from Monday evening through to Wednesday. Our boys [were also] able to fix the damage from Thursday's crash on the #451 before the start on Friday morning. Both cars ran perfectly after we fixed the follow-up defect, so as a whole, that’s very big praise for the whole team!”
“Our number 451 achieved a really good place with an exceptionally good, flawless performance of all five pilots and strong work from the team,” team leader Daniel Sorg continued. “Without the early and annoying consequences of the accident, 3rd [in-class] might have been possible. Benni and I can’t thank our team enough.”
Though not quite the way Team Avia Sorg Rennsport had hoped to end its 10th entry at the Hankook 24H DUBAI, 5th in-class nevertheless secured another top five category finish at the event for the former series champion. Having secured two A5-class podium finishes on its maiden outings in 2013 (BMW Z4 Coupe M) and 2014 (BMW E46 M3), Sorg Rennsport finished 2nd in its first CUP1 entry in 2015 (BMW M235i Racing Cup) and took top five finishes in SP3 both that year and in 2016 (BMW E92 M3 GT4) before taking its first class win at the event in 2017, doing so with an impressive 1-2 in CUP1. Having made the switch to GT4 for 2018 with the BMW M4, Sorg Rennsport finished 2nd in-class in 2019 and even took another class win on a one-off return to TC in 2020 (BMW M240i Racing Cup).
Images – Petr Frýba and Sorg Rennsport