Team Abu Dhabi claim pole for Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai

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Bleekemolen puts the number one Mercedes on the pole after the team prepared a replacement chassis for the one damaged in a Wednesday practice crash.

With a fastest lap time of 1:59.104 minutes, Dutch driver Jeroen Bleekemolen put the number one Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 on pole position for the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai.

Bleekemolen, sharing the car with Briton Sean Edwards and Emirati driver Khaled Al Qubaisi, the two drivers having already teamed up with to win the Dunlop 24 Hours last year. For the 2013 race, the three are joined by German stalwart Bernd Schneider, a five times DTM champion.

#1 Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon Mercedes SLS AMG GT3: Khaled Al Qubaisi, Bernd Schneider, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Sean Edwards
#1 Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon Mercedes SLS AMG GT3: Khaled Al Qubaisi, Bernd Schneider, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Sean Edwards

Photo by: Dubai Autodrome

Qubaisi thus becomes the first UAE national driver to be part of the pole position winning team since the race beagn eight years ago.

The Attempto Racing-Porsche (#26, Ivo Breukers/Kévin Estre/Nicki Thiim/G. Angel Benitez/Henry Hassid) qualified second, the Craft Racing AMR-Aston Martin Vantage GT3 (#15, Frank Yu/Tomonobu Fuijii/Darren Turner/Darryl O’Young/Stefan Mücke) ended up third, followed by the two Saudi Falcons Team Schubert-BMW Z4 GT3s (#24, Abdulaziz Al Faisal/Faisal Binladen/Jörg Müller/Claudia Hürtgen/Dirk Müller and #12, Abdulaziz Al Faisal/Faisal Binladen/Dominik Baumann/Dominik Schwager/Dirk Adorf).

Claiming pole position was a great reward for the Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon for the immense effort that the team members put in after their original car was seriously damaged during a crash in testing on Wednesday.

The team acquired a replacement chassis from the British Preci-Spark outfit that had brought a spare car to Dubai for testing purposes and the Black Falcon mechanics worked all night to convert that car from its sprint configuration to make it suitable for a 24-hour race.

“They put the engine, the gearbox, the fuel tank, the suspension and many other parts from our original car in and really did an amazing job, because the car felt great,” said Jeroen Bleekemolen. “The fact that I was able to claim pole on what was only my third lap of the weekend at the Dubai Autodrome is almost unbelievable.”

Cars exit the pitlane for qualifying
Cars exit the pitlane for qualifying

Photo by: Dubai Autodrome

UAE based teams showed well during qualifying with the Gulf Racing Lamborghini of Fabien Giroix, Frederic Fatien, Stefan Johansson and Khalid Al Mudhaf set to start 13th on the grid.

Last year's pole winners, Dubai based Dragon Racing were 16th on the timing screens with Rob Barff, Matt Griffin, Jordan Grogor and Leon Price sharing the cockpit.

Other UAE based driver and team combinations include: the Gulf Racing Aston Martin team will line up 10th in the SP3 Class, the Memac Ogilvy Duel Racing SEAT with the Moutran brothers Rami, Ramzi and Nabil who were third in the A3T Petrol Class and the SVDP Racing BMW third in the D1 Diesel Class.

With one Mercedes-Benz, one Porsche, one Aston Martin, two BMWs, two McLarens, two Ferraris and one Lamborghini in the top ten and the fact that the top ten cars are within a couple of seconds sets the scene for a very tight contest for top honours.

At 2.00pm on Saturday (11 January) ATCUAE President and FIA vice president Dr. Mohammed Ben Sulayem will flag off the 82 cars who will battle it out until 2.00 pm on Saturday.

Entry throughout the event is free for race fans, with access to the grandstands and unprecedented access to the paddock area.

Dubai Autodrome LLC

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About this article
Series ENDURANCE
Article type Qualifying report
Tags abu dhabi, al qubaisi, bleekemolen, dunlop, endurance, mercedes, schneider

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