Harry King secured his first silverware of the 2023 season with a battling drive to victory in the 6 Hours of Abu Dhabi.
The talented Briton headed into the event hoping to bounce back from a challenging endurance race debut a week earlier in Dubai, where he had been part of a four-strong Pure Rxcing line-up that showed impressive pace on track before unfortunate technical gremlins ruled the #911 Porsche 911 GT3 R out of the fight for leading honours.
Heading immediately for Abu Dhabi, Harry teamed up with Aliaksandr Malykhin and Joel Sturm for the six-hour event and a fine showing in qualifying saw the trio grab pole position with an average lap nearly a second quicker than anyone else.
Harry was given the honour of taking the start and quickly set about building a lead, extending his advantage over the pack behind to 20 seconds before the deployment of the safety car to recover a stricken car from the side of the circuit saw his advantage at the front eradicated.
Keeping his advantage on the restart, Harry would head the opening 34 laps – the longest any single driver would lead in the entire race – before bringing the car in for the first scheduled stop.
As Sturm and Malykhin completed their first stints at the wheel and differing strategies came into play, the #911 remained firmly in the fight at the front alongside the sister Porsche being run by Herberth Motorsport and the HAAS RT Audi R8 LMS, with the three cars swapping the lead as the race developed.
Climbing back behind the wheel for his second stint with little under two hours of the race remaining, Harry found himself running in third spot but chased down the Herberth car to move into second and then swept round the outside of the Audi to reclaim the lead.
Despite picking up a puncture on his in lap – the second suffered by the team – Harry handed the car back to Strum for the run to the flag, with the team facing nervous final hour when the car was handed a 10-second time penalty that would be added on at the finish.
With less than 15 minutes left on the clock, Sturm found himself running second to the sister Porsche but was closing in on the leader when a brief Code 60 neutralised his charge.
However, when the race restarted with less than ten minutes to go, Sturm swept into the lead and was able to extend his lead at the front to 17 seconds by the flag – meaning victory by just seven seconds once the penalty had been applied.
“It was a great feeling to get my first endurance race win, and also to help Pure Rxcing to get its first endurance victory at the same time,” Harry reflected. “The race threw a lot of challenges at us as I managed to build a 20-second lead at the start, and then the safety car came out and all the hard work was undone.
“The world of endurance racing is new to me and it can be a real rollercoaster of emotions as things can work for you and against you as a race develops. As things went on, we stretched our legs when we could, but we were mindful of the fact that further safety cars could hurt us.
“As it was, we battled hard to get the win, and I think it would have been more comfortable without the additional safety cars and the fact that we suffered a few punctures as well. To win with Aliaks and Joel is great, and I’m excited about the potential for further endurance races in the future.”
Source. Harry King/Photo. Creventic
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