80 Cars underway for fifth anniversary edition Dunlop 24H of Dubai
GENNEP - From various ports all over the world, cars and equipment are currently being shipped to Dubai for the fifth anniversary edition of the Dunlop 24H of Dubai (January 14th till 16th), the annual 24-hour race for GT and touring cars and 24h specials. "We will have 80 cars on the grid for the race", says Gerrie Willems on behalf of Dutch agency Creventic BV, promoters and organisers of the Dunlop 24H of Dubai. With teams and drivers from 39 countries all over the world competing in one event, the Dunlop 24H of Dubai is probably the most international 24-hour race of the world.
In October, 2004, Dutch entrepreneurs and amateur racers Ivo Breukers and Gerrie Willems first visited the Dubai Autodrome to attend a round of the FIA GT Championship. Impressed by the facility, Breukers immediately came up with idea to stage a 24-hour race there. His associate Willems looks back upon an exciting and successful five-year period: "We started in 2005 with the idea to host a 24h GT- and touring car race in Dubai. As endurance races become more and more popular, together with the impressive facilities of Dubai Autodrome the idea was turned into a concrete plan. The sunny weather, Dubai as a fascinating city and the challenging 5,39 km track, turned out to be attractive ingredients for an international 24-hour race. Several visits to Dubai Autodrome and meetings with the cooperative circuit management brought the plan to the next stage. A final meeting with the chairman of the Dutch DNRT race organisation, Mr. Huub Vermeulen, encouraged us even more and the first-ever 24-hour race for touring and GT- cars in the Middle East was born".
Thus, the inaugural 24H of Dubai took place in January, 2006. "We had a total of 67 entrants for our first race and we were quite pleased with that. During the 2005 season, we had promoted our event at other race meetings and we received positive reactions", says Willems. "After that, our event has shown steady progress." The second running in 2007 already attracted 77 competitors and 87 cars took part in the race in 2008. Challenging economic conditions meant that the grid was slightly down at 77 cars for 2009. "But to have 80 cars on the grid for the fifth anniversary edition in January is something to be very proud of" says Willems.
In only five years' time this event has grown to one of the most international 24-hour club races in the world. Teams are coming from all over the world: apart from almost all European countries, there are also teams and drivers coming from Australia, Japan, China, Russia, Tanzania, Canada, USA, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, El Salvador, Malaysia and New- Zealand, a total of 39 different nationalities.
Last week, in total 58 40ft containers with cars and equipment have been shipped, most of them from the port of Antwerp in Belgium. Other teams are sending their containers from various ports in Italy, Great Britain, Spain, Australia, Japan and China. The first activity for teams and drivers in Dubai is the traditional Welcome Party at "The Address" hotel with view of the Burj Dubai. Track action for the Dunlop 24H of Dubai starts on Thursday, January 14th, with free practice, qualifying and night practice. The 24-hour race will start on Friday, January 15th, at 2 pm. The "Superkart" series, the official support category of the Dunlop 24H of Dubai, will have three races.