At 15.00 hrs today, the 2019 Hankook 24H DUBAI got underway at Dubai Autodrome as His Highness Sheikh Juma Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum and His Excellency Mohammed Khalfan Alrumaithi, Chairman of the General Authority of Sport, waved the flag of the United Arab Emirates to send off the 74-car field. The 14th running of the first international endurance race of the new calendar year marks the start of the Championship of the Continents in the 24H GT SERIES and the 24H TCE SERIES, both powered by Hankook.
Under a largely blue sky and in bright sunshine, a good crowd had gathered on the starting grid in the early afternoon to enjoy the pre-race activities and entertainment. After two formation laps of the 5.390 kilometres long circuit, the impressive field of GTs, touring cars and 24H Specials with an estimated combined output of around 65,000 horsepower was released for 24 hours of racing.
As usual, there was no lack of action in the opening hours of the race that included four code 60 neutralisations. Great battles were to be seen throughout the field, in the best tradition of endurance racing. There is plenty of off-track entertainment for the fans as well with a variety of activities in the paddock area and a pop-up lounge with an array of catering facilities installed behind the grandstand at Dubai Autodrome.
After four hours of racing, the Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS (#88, Dimitri Parhofer / Christopher Haase / Frédéric Vervisch / Rik Breukers) is leading the race outright and is also on top in the GT division, two laps ahead of the Bohemia Racing with Scuderia Praha Ferrari (#11, Jiri Pisarik / Josef Kral / Matteo Malucelli), the BWT Mücke Motorsport Audi (#9, Markus Winkelhock / Mike David Ortmann / Andreas Weisshaupt / Stefan Mücke / Ricardo Feller), the MS7 by WRT Audi (#7, Mohammed Saud Fahad Al Saud / Michael Vergers / Christopher Mies / Dries Vanthoor) and the V8 Racing Corvette (#18, Max Braams / Wolf Nathan / Duncan Huisman / Rick Abresch / Finlay Hutchinson). The Herberth Motorsport Porsche (#91, Daniel Allemann / Ralf Bohn / Robert Renauer / Alfred Renauer) is leading the A6-Am class in sixth overall, followed by the CP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#85, Charles
Putman / Charles Espenlaub / Joe Foster / Shane Lewis), making it five different brands among the first seven places in the overall standings. For the best part of the first four hours, the pole-winning GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini (#63, Mirko Bortolotti / Christian Engelhart / Rolf Ineichen / Mark Ineichen) ranked among the frontrunners as well, but lost time due to right rear suspension damage at the end of the fourth hour.
In the TCE division, the pole sitter’s hopes were blown as the CWS Engineering Ginetta G55 (#378, Colin White / Steven Wells / Olivier Baron / Angus Fender) got involved in a collision with the MP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#19, Daniël de Jong / Bert de Heus / Henk de Jong / Jaap van Lagen). Fastest qualifier in the TCR class, the AC Motorsport Audi RS 3 LMS (#188, Stéphane Perrin / Vincent Radermecker / Tom Boonen / Gilles Magnus) is leading the TCE division after four hours, closely followed by the LMS Racing by Bas Koeten Racing Audi RS 3 LMS (#129, Antti Buri / Olli Kangas / Kari-Pekka Laaksonen) and the KCMG Honda Civic (Paul Ip / Hon Wah Kenneth Ma / Henry Lee Jr. / Cheuk Wai Yan / Jim Ka To).