Australia’s Grove Racing remained in overall podium contention for much of the 2023 Hankook 24H DUBAI, two-time Le Mans winner Earl Bamber and Australian Supercars’ Anton de Pasquale helping to secure 4th overall.
Words – James Gent
Images – Petr Frýba Photography / Racing Pixels
Grove Racing has praised a “stellar weekend” at the 2023 Hankook 24H DUBAI, at which the Australian team secured 4th overall, just over two minutes shy of the overall GT podium, with Australian Supercars race winner Anton de Pasquale and two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Earl Bamber of driver detail.
Despite spending the early part of the race outside of the top 10 after losing time in the refueling area during two prolonged Code 60 caution periods, the Grove Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R had strategically worked its way back into the overall top five by one-third distance. Throughout the night, thanks to fast and consistent stints from Bamber, de Pasquale, and Brenton Grove (who competed for the eponymous team with his father Stephen), the #10 Porsche was routinely between 30 and 60 seconds behind 3rd place overall, which swapped between Team WRT’s #46 BMW M4 GT3 and series debutant HAAS RT.
“The process is always finishing the race, which was the main goal to do that,” team owner Stephen Grove explains. “There was one ‘full course yellow’ that really hampered us – we probably would have been on for a better result – but 4th is good.
“It’s a 24-hour [race] with no safety cars, so you don’t have the ability to make up time. So really, it’s a 24-hour sprint race.”
Having climbed into the overall top three shortly before daybreak – aided by a scintillating on-track fight between de Pasquale and Team WRT’s Max Hesse – Grove Racing eventually lost further time to an unfortunately-timed Code 60, but still managed to keep the eventual podium finishers on their respective toes en-route to 4th place.
This bests the 6th place overall that Grove Racing – then entered as ‘Herberth Motorsport’ – claimed on its Hankook 24H DUBAI debut in 2022, Grove father and son, and de Pasquale on that occasion competing with Sven Müller.
“Firstly really cool to be back in Dubai with the Groves and Earl for another [Hankook] 24H DUBAI,” de Pasquale continued. “It was a hectic race, we had some really good speed and we were in with a shot for a large portion of it. But to finish a 24-hour race is really cool and to be just shy of a podium is also really good.
“It’s very different when [the race] goes to Code 60: you can be at the wrong side of the track and miss the pits and all this kind of stuff, which happened to us a few times. And I’m sure it happened to other people heaps of times throughout the race. There’s a whole different strategy: sometimes it just falls your way and sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s really a time trial to the end, and judging those unknown windows.
“It’s something very different to what we normally do, but it’s still heaps of fun.”
Grove Racing’s eventual 4th place was previewed during qualifying, during which Earl Bamber set the third fastest time of any GT3 runner during his 15-minute session. The Porsche went on to start 5th, having fallen just half a second shy of polesitter Team WRT’s pole time.