Race First 2 Hours: Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai
Big crowd turn out to watch the 78 teams embark on epic endurance challenge
A big crowd descended on Dubai Autodrome to witness the start of the fifth Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai which got underway at 2pm and will run for 24 hours until tomorrow (Saturday). A total of 74 cars were set off at the start by Dubai Autodrome Chairman Saeed Khalfan for the event which is held under the patronage of His Highness Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Imsa Performance MATMUT 1 Porsche started from pole and led in the early stages of the race with De Lorenzi Porsche holding station in second with Imsa Performance MATMUT 2 Porsche in third. Also at the sharp end of proceedings were the two BMWs of Al Faisal Racing and Petronas Syntium Team.
The early was extremely fast and there were a number of early minor incidents, none major, which saw a number of cars spinning out including locally based DBX Racing Aston Martin with Julian Griffin at the wheel. The incident cost them several places but they carried on. The team, which includes Frederic Gaillard, Jonathan Simmonds, Phil Quaife and Robert Barff, are aiming to defend their title which they won in last year's race.
Also running strongly in the early stages were last year's winning team Land Motorsport Porsche who are particularly strong at night and will be looking to attack when darkness engulfs the race.
The Al Qasba Lap 57 UAE Team Honda was forced to start from the pitlane due to a qualifying infringement and were at the tail of the huge field in the early laps, however not for long as they soon started making their way through the field with Umair Khan at the wheel. Also in theline-up are the Owais brothers Mohammed and Omran, Saeed Al Mehairi.
The UAE based AUH Motorsport 2 Aston Martin, headed up by Emirati driver Humaid Al Masaood and including Dubai based drivers Michael Prophet and Eric Charles, was running strongly in third place in Class SP3 with DXB Racing holding station in fourth. In Class A2 the local entry of Duel Racing Renault Clio, driven by the Moutran brothers Ramzi, Nabil and Sami along with Sheikh Salman Bin Rashid Al Khalifa, was leading the class with two hours on the clock.
The early hours seldom provide much of an indication of what to expect at the end of the race 24 hours later. Teams will have consolidated themselves within the field and will be going all out to preserve their cars for the duration of the event. Much can happen, and often does, in 24 hours racing. The most important goal for teams is to be there at the end, anything else is a bonus.
On the grid prior to the start Dubai Autodrome Chairman Saeed Khalfan said, "I am amazed at the progress in the cars since our first race five years ago. What I am seeing today on the grid at our circuit is state of the art machinery. I am not fond of making predictions but I will go as far as saying that this year we are in for a great race as there are at least a dozen teams capable of taking overall victory. And of course the battles in the various classes make this event several races within one big race. I wish all the drivers and teams the good luck and may the best team win."
The chequered flag will fall at 2pm tomorrow (Saturday) at Dubai Autodrome. This will be followed by the official podium ceremonies for the overall winners and the class victors.
-source: dubai autodrome