Build-up 1: Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai
Emirati drivers and UAE based teams set to make their mark
Under the patronage of His Highness Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai, which takes place at Dubai Autodrome this weekend, on 14, 15 and 16 January 2010, will provide an international stage for Emirati drivers and UAE based teams to make their mark.
At the forefront of the UAE onslaught is the Lap 57 team who have entered a specially built 2009 Honda for the event. The team consists of 2009 UAE Touring Champion Mohammed Al Owais, 2009 UAE Driver of the Year Mohammed Al Falasi, 2010 UAE Touring Cars front runners Omran Al Owais and Umair Khan. The outfit means business as Khan explains, "We have some 24 hours experience through Omran and Al Falasi who did the 24 Hour a couple of years ago. We have built our car specially for the event and our aim is for a class win."
Mohammed Al Owais shares the commitment, "Personally I am excited and a little nervous as it is my first time in a 24 hour race. But this is a challenge for us and our intention is to grow our experience in motorsport. Also we aim to show Emirati's what racing is all about."
Last year one of the biggest sensations of the 24 Hours of Dubai was the SP2 Class victory by Dubai based DBX Racing. This year they are back again as reigning champions and are keen to uphold UAE and team honour and retain their title in the 2010 race.
"Team DXB Racing is immensely proud to again be entering our locally prepared car and UAE resident drivers in this prestigious and high profile event which attracts over 300 talented and highly experienced racers from across the Globe," commented Jonathan Simmonds driver and team principal of DXB Racing.
However the team do not underestimate the scale of the challenge ahead as they know the competition will be very strong and that the wild card element of 24 Hour motor racing can easily affect the outcome.
"This year the grid is again very strong but we relish the opportunity of competing with several other similar Aston Martin Vantage GT4's entered in this race. Our immediate goal is to be the first of the Vantages, which will not be easy, but we are of course also keen to retain our class title if at all possible," added Simmonds.
The driver line up will be made up of DXB Racing's three full-time team members Frederic Gaillard, Jonathan Simmonds and Julian Griffin, ably supported by pro-drivers and team regulars Phil Quaife and Rob Barff.
Duel Racing made their mark at the recent Barcelona 24 Hours with the Dubai based brothers Ramzi, Sami and Nabil Moutran at the wheel of a Renault Clio Cup. For the Dubai race they are joined by one of Bahrain's top drivers Sheikh Salman Bin Rashid Al Khalifa. With their Spanish experience to tap into, they enter the Dubai 24 Hours with the aim to finish strongly, with a podium result in their sights. Sami Moutran says, "It is great to be part of this event and especially to be part of a strong UAE contingent. Finishing is our primary goal and our ambition is to make it on to the podium in our Class."
A racing team that has made a big impact on the local UAE racing scene this year is AUH Motorsport. They have been dominant in the 2009/2010 Gulf Radical Cup in their distinctive white blue and yellow liveried cars and now have gone a step further by purchasing two Aston Martin GT4s to partake in this weekend's Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai. The Dubai race is the first major endurance race that the team has participated in, but is part team principal Carl Rolaston's vision, "This is a big learning curve for us as we will be making our 24 hour debut and it is great to be part of a big event on our "home turf." We intend this to be our first step towards a European campaign in the FIA GT4 Championship and selected European 24 Hour races. The team intends providing an international platform for UAE based competitors to race abroad."
AUH Racing were out turning laps in testing at Dubai Autodrome this past weekend in preparation for the race weekend. They are in the throes of finalising their driver line-up, however they have confirmed some formidable names already, including: 2009 Gulf Radical Cup Champion Bassam Kronfli, 2010 Gulf Radical Cup championship leader Jordan Grogor, former Speedcar driver Eric Charles and UAE regular racer Humaid Al Masaood.