Last year’s Hankook 24H DUBAI TCX-class winner PK Carsport will return to the event with a GTX entry, marking the first time an Audi R8 LMS GT2 has entered a 24H SERIES event.
PK Carsport is set to make its second start at the Hankook 24H DUBAI this month, and will do so with a brand-new Audi R8 LMS GT2.
The Belgian team, which last year took TCX-class victory with a BMW M2 C S Racing and followed this up with a TG category win at the non-championship Hankook 6H ABU DHABI, will now make the switch to the GT divisions’ GTX class for the 2022 event, doing so with full support from Audi Sport.
This entry will also mark the first time a GT2-spec Audi R8 LMS will compete in the 24H SERIES.
"When we bought the car last year, we immediately made it clear to the people at Audi Sport that we did not want to limit ourselves to the GT2 European Series,” PK Carsport team principal Anthony Kumpen explains. “We also wanted to use the car at 24-hour races like this one in Dubai. That is why, together with the people at Audi Sport, we have been looking throughout the year for the necessary adjustments that are necessary for such long-term competitions.
“Different brakes, for example, or extra lights on the car. An adapted drinking system for the drivers, and so on. It is quite a challenge, but we are honoured to be able to tackle it together with the people at Audi Sport. A team of Audi engineers is also present in Dubai, with one who will only take care of our car.”
The GT2 variant of the Audi R8 – the third derivative of Audi Sport’s flagship racer – was unveiled at Geneva Motor Show in 2019, ahead of its debut on the event famous hillclimb with nine-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen at the wheel. Developed for the then-new GT2 category, which catered specifically to ‘gentlemen’ drivers in the GT ranks, the R8 GT2 effectively plugged the gap between the GT3 and GT4 ranks, despite being Audi’s most powerful customer racing car.
Equipped with the same 5.2-litre V10 as its counterparts and the R8 roadcar, the GT2 nevertheless produces 640hp and “over 550Nm” (around 406lb ft), 55hp more than the GT3 and some 145hp more than its GT4 counterpart. All three feature around the same peak torque. On top of the additional raw power, the GT2, which made its competitive debut in the Blancpain GT Sports Club season finale at Barcelona in 2019, also featured an enormous roof-mounted air scoop, a “slim-tailored hard top” above the cockpit, and aggressively sculpted fenders and sideblades as part of a bodywork design reminiscent of “the style of legendary sports cars of the past.” Upon its reveal, Head of Audi Sport Chris Reinke explained that the “lateral dynamics does not put excessive demands even on amateurs”, meaning the higher-powered GT2 is theoretically capable of lap times similar to the PRO-focused GT3.
PK Carsport’s GT2-spec Audi will compete in CREVENTIC’s ‘special prototype’ GTX class alongside former 24H SERIES Continents Overall GT Teams’ champion Leipert Motorsport and 2021 championship contender Vortex V8, among others.
Peter Guelinckx, Bert and Stienes Longin, and Stijn Lowette, who took last year’s TCX class win in Dubai with PK Carsport will once again compete at the Dubai Autodrome. Tellingly, Guelinckx and B. Longin finished as joint runners-up in the GT2 European Series aboard a PK Carsport-entered GT2 Audi R8. B. Longin also holds a joint-record of six wins at the 24 Hours of Zolder, having taken his first in 2002 and his latest in 2019. Bert’s son Stienes meanwhile, who shared the Zolder win in 2019, took the Elite 2 class title in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in 2016. Lowette most recently competed in the Belcar Endurance Championship in 2021.
“It’s a good team, with good drivers: then you owe it to yourself to aim high,” Bert Longin explains. “Watch out, it won't be easy. This Audi is of course a lot faster than the BMW M2 that we started working with last year. That requires some adjustment. In addition, there are more than 80 cars on the list of participants, so traffic will also play an important role. If we can stay out of trouble, we should be able to play a good role.”
“I don't know exactly what to expect from our opponents in the GTX class”, Peter Guelinckx continues. “But I'm more looking forward to how our car will behave against the GT3s, the top class in Dubai. I am quietly hoping for a top-10 [finish] overall, something that has never been achieved by a GTX car in Dubai before.”
While no ‘GTX’ runner has finished higher than 16th overall at the event, Tsunami R.T finished 6th overall with a Porsche 991 Cup MR II running the category’s forerunner, ‘SPX’.
The 24H SERIES season in 2022 kicks off with official Free Practice for the 17th annual Hankook 24H DUBAI on Thursday 13 January ahead of two, 55-minute Qualifying sessions later that afternoon. The race proper gets underway at 15.00 hrs local time on Friday 14 January, with racing scheduled to run uninterrupted throughout the night until the chequered flag is flown at the same time on Saturday 15 January.
- Images – PK Carsport, Audi Sport and Petr Frýba