While Schubert Motorsport’s BMW Z4 GT3 will be among the cars fighting for overall victory in today’s Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai, the popular endurance race is almost as much of a warmup for another around-the-clock marathon later this month.
That’s because the four-man driving squad of Paul Dalla Lana, Dane Cameron, Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner will be contesting the Rolex 24 at Daytona, also all in BMW Z4 machinery.
Initiated by Dalla Lana, who will team with Cameron in Turner Motorsport’s GT Daytona-spec Z4 GT3 in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the former GRAND-AM champion figured the added experience of a 24-hour race prior to the season- opener would beneficial.
Added to the driving for Dubai mix are factory drivers Auberlen and Werner, who will both be at the wheel of BMW Z4 GTE machinery at Daytona for BMW Team RLL in the GT Le Mans class.
“It’s a chance for Dane and I to get some seat time in the same car we’ll drive in the TUDOR Championship, so it’s really good that way,” Dalla Lana told Sportscar365. “Just getting into a 24-hour mentality will be good for us.
“I think in spite of all the testing at Daytona, it’s been a late start for our program. Any extra seat time we can get is going to be nothing but good for our development. That’s why we’re here.”
Dalla Lana is set for his second Dubai 24 start, having teamed with Auberlen for a fifth place finish in 2011, also coming in a Schubert-run Z4 GT3 car.
For Werner, who shifts his focus back to endurance racing after two years in BMW’s DTM program, he agrees that there can be some good crossover between the two races, despite the GT3 car being slightly different to drive than the factory GTE entry.
“Things like the driver changes are the same in this car as it’s in the GTE car that Rahal brings to Daytona,” Werner explained. “It’s good practice.
“For sure we’re in a different position here. We’re in the fastest [class] so we have to overtake a lot of slow cars whereas in Daytona, we have to watch our rearview mirror more to stay out of the prototypes’ way.”
Traffic has been one of the major talking points in Dubai, with nearly 80 cars, comprised of a wide variety of GT and touring cars, set to take the start this afternoon.
It’s perhaps the biggest challenge the drivers will face this week, particularly for Dubai 24 rookies such as Cameron.
“When there’s not any cars on it, there’s a pretty good rhythm and pretty good flow to it,” Cameron said of the Dubai Autodrome. There’s a couple fast sections. It’s quite a bit of fun.
“Lap times in practice are pretty dictated as to who gets a whole lap to themselves and who doesn’t. But we’re definitely in the mix and everyone’s running well.”
As for any other lessons learned, both Dalla Lana and Auberlen also believe their experience this week may also help their Daytona programs from a car setup standpoint as well.
“[Schubert’s] run this car for many years so they have a lot of experience with the Z4 platform,” Dalla Lana said. “We’re trying to pick up every little detail we can.”
Auberlen added: “This team has found a little secret to make the car go quicker in a straight line, or at least to get down the straight faster. I’m going to go email our [RLL] team. I don’t know if they’re going to do it, but I’d love to give it a try.”
And considering the Z4’s top speed deficit on the high banks of Daytona, any little help could make a difference in seeing one of the V8-powered beasts in Victory Lane at the World’s Center of Racing later this month.