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Dubai Post-Race Notebook

Sportscar365’s post-race notebook after the shortened 24H Dubai…

Photo: Creventic

***The Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai became the third major motorsport event in the Middle East to be impacted by rain in a little over 12 months, as rain also affected the FIA World Endurance Championship’s rookie test at Bahrain last month, while showers and flooding impacted the ABB FIA Formula E Championship’s inaugural Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia in December 2018.

***This was not the first time heavy rain impacted a race at Dubai Autodrome, as a similar situation occurred during the FIA GT3 European Championship round at the track in 2008, also causing flooding and disruption.

***The crash that took GPX Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 R out of the race after just seven minutes was caused by Dirk Werner losing the rear under braking while battling with Car Collection Motorsport’s Markus Winkelhock down the main straight. The incident, which sent the Porsche directly into the Turn 1 barriers, initially looked like a possible brake failure but was just a loss of control while on the dirty side of the track, according to team principal Pierre-Brice Mena.

***The car has heavy front-end damage and Mena says “we will investigate” the condition of the chassis. GPX’s next race is expected to be the GT World Challenge Europe opener at Monza in three months’ time, so it has no major rush to repair the car. 

***One of the Code 60s called during the race was for an incident between the Sainteloc Racing Audi and CP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo. The Sainteloc car headed back to the pits with damage but CP’s new Mercedes was able to continue.

***Mercedes-AMG won all three classes it was represented in, with the overall and GT3 Pro win for Black Falcon, GT3 Am win for MP Motorsport and GT4 win for Atlas BX Motorsports.

“We are very happy to have been able to win this crazy race in Dubai and to score further class wins and podium results,” said Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing. “The debut of our new Mercedes-AMG GT3 was also very positive with seventh place overall and I am already looking forward to the next outings at Daytona and Bathurst in the upcoming weeks.”

***A controversial incident unfolded in the pit lane early in the race when a video emerged of a Barwell Motorsport mechanic appearing to push an MRS GT Racing mechanic into one of the MRS Porsches. The MRS mechanic fell into his team’s car and was struck by its rear wing as it left the pit box, before falling to the ground. Barwell received a four-minute pit stop penalty for the incident.

***A statement on the British team’s Facebook page claimed that “one of our crew unintentionally collided with a neighbouring mechanic during a wheel change”.

***GT4 class winner Atlas BX Motorsports usually competes in the national CJ Superrace Championship in its native South Korea. Its drivers Jongkyum Kim and Steven Cho finished first and second in the championship last year, racing Cadillac ATS-Vs in the spec ASA 6000 class, the top level of stock car racing in Korea. Of note, former Formula 1 driver and Super GT regular Yuji Ide also races in the series.

***Atlas BX only received its Mercedes-AMG GT4 at the track on Tuesday, while Dubai marked its first ever event outside of South Korea. The team is evaluating possible future plans with the car, including additional 24H Series races. 

***Other GT class wins went to Dragon Racing’s Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo (GTX) and MRS GT Racing (Porsche 991 Cup). TCR cars locked out the overall top ten of the TCE division, while TCX honors went to Team ACP’s BMW M240i Racing Cup and Team Avia Sorg Rennsport won TC as the class’ only finisher, also using a BMW M240i.

***Rory Butcher didn’t make it to Dubai to compete for Century Motorsport because his flight was rerouted due to the ongoing political tensions in Iraq and Iran. Posting on social media on Friday, the Scot explained that his flight was diverted to Istanbul after reaching the Iraqi border but the plane later developed a technical fault that prevented it from leaving Istanbul and continuing to Dubai the next morning. As a result, he decided to return home on Thursday morning, as he would be too late to arrive in Dubai in time.

***The political tension in Iraq and Iran, caused by the U.S. killing of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani last week and subsequent Iranian airstrikes on U.S. bases in Iraq, caused travel chaos for a number of people in the paddock. Many airlines avoided the usually busy airspace over Iraq and the Arabian Gulf beginning on Wednesday, causing reroutings and diversions to other airports, including Istanbul.

***Dubai is less than 100 miles from the Iranian coast, separated by the Arabian Gulf, but the geographical proximity to Iran did not cause any other problems for the event, with no added security concern amid rising tensions.

***Zengo Motorsport driver Gabor Kismarty-Lechner proposed to his girlfriend Hanna Hartai on the grid before the race. Hanna said ‘yes’, and Gabor went on to finish 11th in TCR.

***The planned return of the TCR Middle East Series has been scrapped. The championship was set to have three races in support of the 24H Dubai and a further three next weekend (Jan. 16-17) at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, before an invitational round as part of the TCR Asia round at Sepang in February.

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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