GTX Teams’ title contenders Vortex V8 and razoon-more than racing go into the Middle East Trophy finale level on points, while just four points split 992-AM rivals NKPP by HRT Performance and QMMF by HRT Thuraya Qatar.
Words – James Gent
Images – Petr Frýba
Title honours in both 992 and GTX are set to go down to the wire at this weekend’s Hankook 6H ABU DHABI, with contenders for the Middle East Trophy level-pegging in GTX, and split by just four points in 992-AM.
The 2023 Hankook 6H ABU DHABI marks the culmination of CREVENTIC’s new Middle East Trophy after the opening two rounds in Kuwait (last December) and last week’s Hankook 24H DUBAI. In the GT3 division, CP Racing, the reigning Continents GT Trophy winner, looks on-course to take title honours following its overall win in Kuwait and its second successive GT3-AM victory in Dubai.
Across in the 992 class, former 991 Team’s champion Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors is currently in the pound seat, courtesy of a 2nd place finish in Kuwait on the event debut of its new, 992-generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Long-time teammates Fabrizio Broggi, Sabino de Castro, and Sergiu Nicolae currently head the 992 Drivers’ standings, and team together once again aboard the #95 Porsche 992 GT3 Cup.
5th in-class at the Hankook 24H DUBAI, however, after time lost to broken front suspension means that 992-AM class leader NKPP by HRT Performance remains well in contention for overall 992 honours. The Dutch team was the highest-placed ‘Am’ runner in Kuwait, and came home 3rd in 992-Am in Dubai, behind Huber Motorsport – and is thus just 10 points behind Willi Motorsport with full points on offer this weekend in Abu Dhabi.
With neither Gijs Bessem nor Harry Hilders competing this weekend in Abu Dhabi though, the 992-AM Drivers’ lead currently stands with Abdulla Ali Al Khelaifi, who will compete in the QMMF by HRT Thuraya Qatar Porsche alongside, ironically, nearest title rival Ibrahim Al Abdulghani.
Similarly, the fight for 992-AM title honours is even closer between NKPP by HRT Performance (#928) and the ‘sister’ QMMF by HRT Thuraya Qatar (#929). The latter endured a tough event in Kuwait on the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation’s maiden collaboration in the 24H SERIES with HRT, but recovered well to finish as the 3rd highest ‘Am’ runner. A mighty run in Dubai saw the #929 Porsche collect the chequered flag just two minutes behind Huber Motorsport, securing its second 992-Am podium in the process. Victory for the Qatari team could prove decisive in Abu Dhabi.
Across in GTX, the standings are even closer, with both Vortex V8 (#701) and razoon-more than racing (#714) equal on points heading into the Middle East Trophy decider.
Victory for razoon-more than racing looked a near-certainty at the Hankook 12H KUWAIT only for an engine fire to knock the Austrian team to 3rd in-class, 81 laps adrift of eventual class winner Leipert Motorsport. Vortex V8 meanwhile managed to recover from its own technical maladies to finish 2nd in-class.
The French independent repeated its category runners-up spot in Dubai after a clean run, though this was not enough to stop the razoon-more than racing KTM romping home to a commanding win in GTX. The results mean both Vortex and razoon are now level-pegging on 70 points, with the latter currently ahead on countback thanks to its Dubai victory.
In the GTX Drivers’ standings, Vortex teammates Lionel Amrouche and Philippe Bonnel, and razoon’s Daniel Drexel will compete for class honours during tomorrow’s six-hour event. Amrouche and Bonnel will race the #701 Vortex alongside compatriot Julien Boillot, while Drexel lines up in the #714 KTM with razoon team boss Dominik Olbert, the returning Laura Kraihamer, and Kuwait’s Haytham Qarajouli.
All Middle East Trophy winners will receive their awards at a special prize giving after the Hankook 6H ABU DHABI.
After official Free Practice and 55 minutes of Qualifying on Saturday 21 January, the Hankook 6H ABU DHABI itself begins at 16.00 hrs local time and will run uninterrupted until 22.00 hrs.