UAE-based GPX Racing has become only the second Emirati team to take outright victory at the Hankook 24H DUBAI after a commanding performance at the Dubai Autodrome this weekend.
The GPX Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R (#36, Axcil Jeffries / Frederic Fatien / Mathieu Jaminet / Julien Andlauer / Alain Ferté) secured a lead it would never lose on lap 124, driving a faultless race thereafter to pull over three minutes clear of its nearest rivals at the chequered flag, completing 600 laps of the 5.39km Dubai Autodrome in the process. GPX Racing thus becomes the first Emirati team to take an outright win at the Hankook 24H DUBAI since Abu Dhabi Racing by Black Falcon pulled the double in 2012 and 2013. The result also secures Porsche a record-extending sixth win at the event.
“It’s fantastic and I’m so happy for the team,” Axcil Jefferies told radiolemans.com’s Ian Salvestrin. “The guys worked so hard this whole week – they rebuilt the car two or three times – and they believed in us, so it’s great to reward them.
“And of course all the drivers did an amazing job. We pushed early on to build up a gap and then went into safety management mode in the last two hours to make sure we could bring the car home.”
In a dramatic moment, WRT, the Hankook24H DUBAI winner of 2016, managed to leapfrog into 2nd place inside the final hour. The WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo (#31, Dries Vanthoor / Kelvin van der Linde / Louis Machiels / Benjamin Goethe / Frank Bird) was closing in on the runner’s up spot in the closing stages when the HRT Bilstein Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo (#4, Hubert Haupt / Maro Engel / Patrick Assenheimer / Ryan Ratcliffe / Khaled Al Qubaisi) was brought into the pits for a driver change with just 40 minutes left on the clock. The Audi and the Mercedes were split by less than 30 seconds at the flag.
3rd place for HRT Bilstein nevertheless secures three-time event winners Hubert Haupt – the team owner – and the UAE’s Khaled Al Qubaisi their sixth and fifth outright podium finishes at the Hankook 24H DUBAI respectively.
The GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo (#63, Rolf Ineichen / Adrian Amstutz / Mirko Bortolotti / Rik Breukers), another frontrunner throughout the 24-hour event, finished a solid 4th overall just ahead of the second HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo (#5, Khaled Al Qubaisi / Valentin Pierburg / Florian Scholze / Nico Bastian / Patrick Assenheimer). The latter simultaneously secured GT3-AM victory ahead of nearest category rival Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo (#34, Johannes Dr. Kirchhof / Gustav Edelhoff / Elmar Grimm / Max Edelhoff), which finished 6th overall on the road.
Behind the Racetivity Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo (#83, François Perrodo / Charles-Henri Samani / Emmanuel Collard / Matthieu Vaxiviere), the second Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo (#88, Milan Dontje / Kim Holmgaard / Martin Lechmann / Tim Müller / Johannes Stengel), which won the Hankook 24H DUBAI outright in 2019, finished 8th overall and completes the GT3-AM podium. A superb recovery for the German team, which was unable to participate in Thursday’s qualifying session at all owing to pre-session suspension failure.
Despite making early contact with one of the Porsche Cup cars, the MP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo (#19, Henk de Jong / Daniel de Jong / Bert de Heus / Jaap Van Lagen) recovered to finish 9th overall in Dubai. 10th for Inception Racing by Optimum McLaren 720S GT3 (#72, Brendan Iribe / Ollie Millroy / Nick Moss / Joe Osborne) equals the best result yet for a McLaren at the Hankook 24H DUBAI, Lapidus Racing having also finished 10th in 2013 with its MP4-12C.
Former event winner Herberth Motorsport had a weekend to forget in Dubai. Having secured the FXPrimus GT pole position on Thursday, the Bavarian team lost the first of its three Porsche 991 GT3 R entries (#91, Ralf Bohn / Daniel Allemann / Robert Renauer / Alfred Renauer) just two hours in following a collision a GT3 rival. The polesitting #92 (Jürgen Häring / Wolfgang Triller / Vincent Kolb / Sven Müller / Klaus Bachler) remained well in contention for victory in the early stages but was eventually retired with suspected gearbox issues. The #93 (Steffen Görig / Antares Au / Daniel Lloyd / John Loggie) did manage to finish 11th overall, but lost time to a collision on-track that heavily damaged the Porsche’s rear bodywork.
The Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (#710, Gregg Gorski / Gerhard Watzinger / Kurt Thiel / Oscar Lee / Fidel Leib) secured victory in a troubled GTX class at the Hankook 24H DUBAI. Indeed, the Vortex V8 Vortex 1.0 (#701, Philippe Bonnel / Lionel Amrouche / Karen Gaillard / Alban Varutti) suffered myriad suspension problems en-route to 2nd in-class. The 3rd-placed ARC Bratislava Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (#707, Miro Konopka / Mato Konopka / Justas Jonušis / Thomas Padovani / Zdeno Mikulasko) had been leading comfortably before a fire broke out in the V10 engine bay come daybreak. Even the Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini had to be recovered during the night after losing drive.
The NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing Porsche 991-II Cup (#991, Harry Hilders / Gijs Bessem / Bob Herber / Roeland Voerman) took what turned out to be a comfortable win in the 991 class after problems befell the 2nd placed DUWO Racing Porsche 991-II Cup (#909, Andrey Mukovoz / Stanislav Sidoruk / Sergey Peregudov / Dylan Pereira). The latter led the class throughout the opening half of the event, but ultimately lost 45 minutes in the pits to drivetrain problems. MRS GT-Racing (#989, Jeroen Bleekemolen / Timothy Pappas / Saif Alamer / Jukka Honkavuori) endured a character-building event, stopping twice on-track en-route to 3rd in-class.
Canada’s ST Racing secured its first class win in the 24H SERIES with its BMW M4 GT4 (#438, Samantha Tan / Chandler Hull / Jon Miller / Nick Wittmer) after a flawless run in GT4. Reigning Overall GT Teams’ champion PROsport Racing got its title defense off to a good start with 2nd in-class with the Aston Martin Vantage GT4 (#401, Nico Verdonck / Rodrigue Gillion / Stephane Lemeret / Patrik Matthiesen / Constantin Schöll). The UAE’s Dragon Racing meanwhile followed up GTX class victory at its home event last year with the final spot on the GT4 podium with its Mercedes-AMG GT4 (#488, Denis Remenyako / Adam Christodoulou / John Hartshorne / Ollie Hancock).
The teams ship their cars back via containers on a ship, they’ll gather once again for the next round at Mugello on the 26th and 27th of march to begin the European season.