Jeroen Bleekemolen has taken Black Falcon to overall pole for Friday’s Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai, giving Mercedes-AMG the top qualifying position in the first international endurance race of the year.
Bleelemolen pedaled his No. 2 Mercedes-AMG GT3 to a quick time of 1:57.705 early in the 30-minute session.
It ended up being enough for pole, despite the Dutchman’s late improvement to a 1:57.3, which was deleted due to having been set while under a local yellow.
It marked Bleekemolen’s second 24H Dubai pole after taking top qualifying honors in 2013. He’ll share driving duties with Khaled Al Qubaisi, Patrick Assenheimer and Manuel Metzger.
“I knew the competition was going to be tough, especially my old teammate Mirko Bortolotti in the Lamborghini and some of the good Audi and Porsche drivers here,” Bleekemolen said.
“It’s great, if you look at the list of drivers and teams entering cars, it’s a really strong competition. So to beat them all feels really good.”
The No. 963 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 will start second, thanks to Mirko Bortolotti’s 1:57.822 lap time, which was just 0.117 seconds slower than Bleekemolen’s pole time.
The No. 911 Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R of Robert Renauer was third, with Christopher Hasse making it four different manufacturers in the top-four in his No. 14 Omptimum Motorsport Audi R8 LMS.
Maro Engel, meanwhile, put the No. 3 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 on the grid fifth, with Free Practice 2 pacesetter Matteo Cairolli sixth in the No. 12 Manthey Racing Porsche.
A6-Am class pole honors went to the No. 17 IDEC Sport Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Paul Lafargue, who qualified 16th overall.
The No. 204 Vortex V8 took SPX pole, with a 2:01.895 lap by Arnaud Gomez, while Klaus Bachler claimed 991 class pole in his No. 63 race:pro motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car.
SP2 top qualifying honors, meanwhile, went to Jaap van Lagen in the No, 207 Bovi Motorsport Brokernet Silver Sting, which then stopped on track to bring out the late-session yellow.
A total of 89 cars set qualifying times, with at least 93 entries set to start the 24-hour enduro, which gets underway Friday at 2 p.m. local time.
Pole-sitter Bleekemolen, meanwhile, predicts a tough race ahead.
“My first lap, which in the end was the pole lap, had some traffic,” he said. “It’s tough and going to be crazy in the race, with all the cars out there. It’s going to be a big challenge for all of us.”