Despite a succession of gearbox issues, reigning 991 Teams’ champion Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors took home points at the 2022 Hankook 24H DUBAI in a “gruelling” start to the team’s title defence.
Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors has expressed frustration at what it calls a “gruelling test” and a “rather troubled experience” at the 2022 Hankook 24H DUBAI, despite the reigning 991-class Teams’ champion securing the runners-up spot in-class.
The Romanian-Italian collaboration came into the 2022 24H SERIES season opener off the back of an incredibly successful 2021 campaign in which the #955 Porsche 991-II Cup secured four class wins from five starts (brake issues relegated the team to 4th in-class in Hockenheim). This momentum continued into Dubai when Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors took 991-class pole position just under three-tenths of a second clear of nearest rival, Red Ant Racing.
Having led the 991 category for the opening two hours, and even extending its lead to just under two minutes at one stage, the #955 Porsche lost over an hour in the garage when a recurrent gearbox issue the team had suffered since free practice, despite changing the unit in its entirety, reared its head once again. When the 991-II Cup did re-join, the team was already 27 laps down on new class leader Red Ant Racing.
Having pulled back four laps of its deficit during the opening night stages, Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors was elevated to 2nd in-class when Red Ant Racing, ironically, lost almost three hours in the garage with its own transmission issues. All hope of the reigning 991 champion catching new leader NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing were further derailed though when the #955 pitted with more gearbox issues and, later on, to repair a broken front left suspension arm.
Across the final three hours, Fabrizio Broggi, Sergiu Nicolae and Sabino De Castro managed to complete just seven laps of the Dubai Autodrome, but the trio were nevertheless able to hold off Red Ant Racing for 2nd in-class. NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing meanwhile went on to secure its second successive class win at the Hankook 24H DUBAI.
Despite suffering arguably its toughest race since their collaboration began last year, Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors still has its eye on a second consecutive championship in the 24H SERIES.
“The Italian-Romanian team started with very different expectations, considering the times recorded in free practice and qualifying,” EBIMOTORS explained in an official team statement. “However, a series of drawbacks changed the cards on the table.
“A few hours from the end, a light touch forced the #955 Porsche… to stop in the pits again due to a damaged suspension arm. We then preferred to return to the track, continuing at a slow pace, to save what could be saved without completely compromising the car and the safety of [the drivers]. In the end, 2nd place in-class [was secured]. A pity, given the conditions, but a real joy thinking about what happened.
“In the end, despite a bit of bad luck, Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors still took home valuable points in terms of the championship standings.”
Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors has already confirmed its entry for the Hankook 12H MUGELLO on 25-26 March, at which the team took 991-class victory last year. At the time, the win marked Ebimotors’ first triumph in the 24H SERIES since 2018.
Images – Ebimotors and Petr Frýba