24H Dubai: Event race report

VIP Pet Foods-Porsche wins TOYO TIRES 24H of Dubai They were fastest in qualifying and were leading the race from the sixth hour onwards. After that, Australian team, VIP Pet Foods (Tony Quinn, Klark Quinn, Craig Baird and Jonathan ...

VIP Pet Foods-Porsche wins TOYO TIRES 24H of Dubai

They were fastest in qualifying and were leading the race from the sixth hour onwards. After that, Australian team, VIP Pet Foods (Tony Quinn, Klark Quinn, Craig Baird and Jonathan Webb) took their Porsche 997 GT3 RSR to victory in the third edition of the TOYO TIRES 24H of Dubai. In a race that was marked by highly changeable weather conditions with many rain showers during the night, the total of 87 participating teams provided plentz of action. For the drivers, however, things were anything but easy because of the torrential rain. Second place in the 24- hour race at the 5.4 kilometres long Dubai Autodrome was taken by the Porsche 997 GT3 Cup of Dutch team, Bleekemolen's Race Planet (Michael Bleekemolen, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Sebastiaan Bleekemolen and Jan Lammers). In a highly exciting closing stage of the race, this quartet managed to hold off the five drivers of Delahaye Renault Belgium, Bas Leinders, Stephane Lemeret, Gregory Franchi, Vincent Vosse and Frederic Bouvy with their Renault Megane Trophy.

Prior to the race, the weather was already expected to be playing a major role in the outcome of the race as there was a high probability of rainfall during the event. It still remained dry in the opening quarter of the race, but some seven hours into the race, the first drops started falling, soon followed by the first one of numerous heavy downpours, that had their effect on the race especially during the nightly hours. Many times, the clerk of the course had to use the so-called "code 60 rule" (a maximum speed of 60 kph for all competitors on the track) when stationary cars had to be recovered from dangerous places or when visibility and driving conditions were too bad to continue the race at normal speed.

Dense traffic at the track, with almost 90 cars on the 5.4 kilometres long circuit, didn't make things any easier for the participants either and in the evening, the race was already over for several teams that were considered as contenders for victory prior to the event. The first team to retire was Konrad Motorsport (Porsche 997 RSR, Wolfgang Kaufmann, Franz Konrad, Michael Schrey and Jeroen Bleekemolen) due to an oil pump problem. Later on, the Proton Competition-Porsche 997 GT3 RSR (Lars Erik Nielsen, Allan Simonsen, Richard Westbrook and Christian Ried) and the Prospeed Competition-Porsche 996 GT3 RS (Rudi Penders, Franz Lamot, Markus Palttala and Mikael Forsten) had to retire.

After a couple of contenders had retired and other quick teams had dropped back due to technical prolems, the VIP Pet Foods team was able to take the lead during the sixth hour of the race. One day before, the team had already claimed pole position in the closing stages of a highly entertaining qualifying session. In the race, the quartet with the black- and-yellow Porsche with the starting number 39 then drove an undisputed victory home. Thus, the team also took victory in its class A6 (up to 4000 cc).

The battle for second place between the Bleekemolen's Race Planet-Porsche and the Delahaye-Renault Belgium-Renault was quite fascinating. A different pit stop strategy brought the cars close to one another, but eventually, father Michael Bleekemolen with his two sons Sebastiaan and Jeroen Bleekemolen and former Le Mans winner Jan Lammers had the upper hand. The Bleekemolen's team success was completed by the class win for Hans Rutte, Ronald van de Laar, Hans Bos and Melvin de Groot with the team's BMW 130i in the category A4 (up to 3000 cc). The Belgian Renault team claimed victory in the SP1 class for silhouette cars.

Victory in class A5 (up to 3500 cc) was taken by the BMW Z4 Coupe of German team, ORMS Racing with Franz Engstler, Stefan Neuberger and Marko Hartung, ahead of the BMW Compact GTR of Dutch team, Motors TV (Peter van der Kolk, Richard van den Berg, Elmar Grimm and Cor Euser), who managed to beat the Austrian Duller Motorsport outfit in the final minutes. That team, that had won in Dubai the previous two years, now finished third in class and eleventh overall with Dieter Quester, Philipp Peter, Stefano Zonca and Andrea Bellichi in the BMW M3 E46.

Best-placed diesel-powered car in the TOYO TIRES 24H of Dubai was Schubert Motorsport's BMW 120d (Heinz Schmersal, Stian Sorlie, Jorg Viebahn, Claudia Hurtgen). The other class winners: A1 (up to 1600 cc): Rhino's Leipert Motorsport, Ford Fiesta ST, Marcel Leipert, Gontari Pavel, Mareks Stalcemanis, Oleksander Danylchenko. A2 (up to 2000 cc): Maeder Motorsport, Honda S2000, Andreas Mader, Reinhold Renger, Harald Jacksties, Reiner Schonauer, Friedhelm Mihm. SP2 (exceptional cars): Kaleji Motorsport, Ferrari 430 GTC, John Sinders, Joe Macari, Adrian Newey, Robert Wilson.

There was a lot of attention for the racing debut of the Audi CR-8, the racing version of the Audi R8 sports car, which was developed and run following an initiative by race organisers, Creventic BV. The TOYO TIRES 24H of Dubai were also the season opener of the inaugural 24H SERIES, a special championship consisting of four 24-hour races, that is being organised for the first time in 2008.

Quotes:

Tony Quinn (1st place, VIP Pet Foods-Porsche 997 GT3 RSR): "We didn't expect to be able to reach such a result, but after qualifying, we knew that we were quick here. We were well prepared for the rain after the few races in Europe in which we have participated. Whether or not we will be racing in the other races of the 24H SERIES, depends on how much pet foods we can sell. At least the basis is there!"

Michael Bleekemolen (2nd place, Bleekemolen's Race Planet-Porsche 997 GT3 Cup): "Consistent driving and keeping an eye on the fuel consumption helped us achieve such a good result here. Of course, all four of us have a lot of experience, which turned out to be valuable here. For me as a father, racing together with my sons alongside Jan Lammers was a very nice experience."

Frederic Bouvy (3rd place, Delahaye-Renault Belgium Renault Megane Trophy): "Together, we were a very good team in this difficult race. After we hit trouble with our first car with alternator failure, we decided to focus on the other car, and with success."

-credit: 24hdubai.com

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About this article
Series Endurance
Drivers Jan Lammers , Vincent Vosse , Robert Wilson , Cor Euser , Jeroen Bleekemolen , Craig Baird , Michael Bleekemolen , Allan Simonsen , Tony Quinn , Klark Quinn , Franz Engstler , Stéphane Lemeret , Joe Macari , Rudi Penders , Franz Lamot , Stian Sorlie , Richard Westbrook , Adrian Newey , Stefan Neuberger , Heinz Schmersal , Jörg Viebahn , Michael Schrey , Mikael Forsten , Elmar Grimm , Sebastiaan Bleekemolen
Teams Proton Competition