After a commanding performance in qualifying, razoon-more than racing secured GTX-class victory at the 2023 Hankook 6H ABU DHABI by less than five seconds in “one of the closest and nerve-wracking races” yet for 24H SERIES newcomer, Haytham Qarajouli.
Words – James Gent
Images – Petr Frýba
Kuwait’s Haytham Qarajouli has claimed his recent Hankook 6H ABU DHABI outing with razon-more than racing was “one of the closest and nerve-wracking races for everyone watching in the pit garage” after the Austrian team secured GTX-class victory at the six-hour event by less than five seconds.
A frontrunner from the very start of the weekend, razoon-more than racing qualified a stellar 7th overall for the 2023 Hankook 6H ABU DHABI, and 1st in GTX, after Qarajouli, Daniel Drexel and team boss Dominik Olbert set fastest laps during their respective 15-minute qualifying sessions. This, despite an incident during Free Practice when KTM factory driver Laura Kraihamer, making her first start with CREVENTIC since the 2020 Hankook 12H MONZA, was involved in an on-track clash with one of AC Motorsport’s two Audi RS 3 LMS,’ the impact breaking one of the KTM’s right rear wishbones in the process.
Starting an endurance race for the first time in his career, Qarajouli took the team’s qualifying momentum into the race proper, setting the car’s fastest lap of the event – a 1m 59.184s – after just seven laps, and establishing a 70-second gap in the early going.
Two early safety car periods ultimately shuffled the field together again, meaning the reigning Ligier European Series’ JS2 R champion’s advantage to the Tischner Motorsport Porsche 911-II Cup was whittled down to almost nothing when he made his first and only driver change. Fast stints from Drexel and Kraihamer meant razoon-more than racing led GTX for five of the six completed hours, though two more full-course yellows meant the KTM couldn’t break away. In a strategic gamble, the Austrian team low-fuelled the KTM to vault team boss Olbert ahead of Tischner Motorsport for his final stint.
A late-race Code 60 – called with less than 10 minutes left on the clock to retrieve the stricken Vortex V8 – proved crucial, with the #714 KTM, now on vapours, managing to hold off a charging Michael Tischner in the eponymous Porsche to take GTX victory by just 4.786s.
“It was a great experience starting the six-hour race at the iconic Yas Marina Circuit, especially on the newly redesigned layouts,” Qarajouli explains. “The car never missed a beat all weekend and the crew were again amazing.
“The end of the race was really intense as we were saving fuel and at the same time trying to stay ahead of the Porsche only a few seconds behind us. It is incredible we only had 4.7s between us after six hours of hard racing. Tthis has to be one of the closest and nerve wracking races for everyone watching in the pit garage.
“It is one of the reasons I’m so drawn to endurance racing, as it’s a team sport and it adds to the overall excitement. No two races are ever the same.”
The win, coupled with the team’s class victory one week earlier at the 2023 Hankook 24H DUBAI, means razoon-more than racing secured GTX class honours in CREVENTIC’s inaugural Middle East Trophy. The result also puts to bed memories of last December’s Hankook 12H KUWAIT, which razoon, again with Qarajouli on driver detail, looked set to win before an engine failure sparked an engine bay fire during the Kuwait driver’s first stint.
“That was a tough race,” Qarajouli continues. “For my first long endurance race, I did have a lot to deal with but the team were incredible in getting the engine and alternator replaced so quickly and did a great job all weekend.
“A car on fire is not an ideal situation for any driver and I want to thank the fire crew at [Kuwait Motor Town] who did a great job to put it out so quickly. Thankfully I was close to pit lane entry when it happened so it was an easy decision to make.
“I am extremely proud to have raced at my home circuit in Kuwait, and to take part in the [circuit’s] first FIA long endurance event. It was very special to be able to share the experience with my family and friends all [there] to support the team,”
Following on from its successful Middle East campaign, razoon-more than racing has expressed an interest in a European run in the 2023 24H SERIES powered by Hankook, starting with the Hankook 12H MUGELLO on 25-26 March.