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Dubai Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday notebook from Dubai Autodrome…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

***Black Falcon is set to have all three of its Mercedes in the race, with the German squad taking its spare SLS AMG GT3 out of retirement to replace the No. 16 entry that burned up in Free Practice 2. The car, which still had Gulf 12 Hours graphics on it from its last outing, was on display behind the team’s tent. It did not turn laps tonight but is expected to be out for warmup tomorrow.

***The 19 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS of Laurens Vanthoor led the way in night practice, with the Belgian reeling of a best lap time of 1:59.921. The No. 33 Car Collection Audi and No. 27 SPS Automotive Performance Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 completed the top-three overall in the two-hour session.

***There have been two further revisions to Balance of Performance today, with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 receiving a 3mm larger restrictor, and both the new Audi R8 LMS and Lamborghini Huracan GT3 getting a 40kg weight increase.

***The Audi was initially handed a 20kg increase with ride height adjustments but a further bulletin was issued in the afternoon, bumping the weight up a further 20kg but eliminating the ride height mandate. Weight adjustments were also made to the Renault RS01 and Porsche 911 GT America cars.

***As part of the BoP process, all A6-Pro class cars must add 30kg to their base weight. A6-Am class cars, meanwhile, are limited to 2:03 lap times but have 5 liters of additional fuel capacity. A total of ten “joker” laps are permitted before penalties are issued for the Am cars that go under the lap time limit.

***There’s been a change to the A6-Am rules, however, which mandates a minimum drive time of six hours for Bronze and Silver-rated drivers. Drivers in A6-Pro, meanwhile, require two hours in the car.

***The HB Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 returned to the track Thursday after an extensive re-build overnight. The Austrian crew worked until 5 a.m. this morning following a fire on Wednesday that had put their participation in doubt. Robert Renauer qualified the car 11th in the A6-Pro class.

***The No. 202 Red Camel Racing MARC Mazda3 V8, the other victim from Wednesday, was also back on track, although only briefly, following a crash that required a near day-long search for a replacement steering rack. The car stopped on track in night practice on its out lap.

***Connor De Phillippi, who will roll off second on the grid, is planning a season of GT3 racing in Europe. The former Porsche Junior driver told Sportscar365 that he’ll drive Land Motorsport’s new Audi R8 LMS in a yet-to-be-announced European championship.

***Legendary race engineer Ricardo Divila has joined Konrad Motorsport for its new Lamborghini Huracan GT3 effort. Divila most recently worked with the now-defunct Nissan LMP1 program and has prior experience also with Nissan’s GT-R NISMO GT3.

***In addition to California’s De Phillippi, there are a handful of American drivers taking part in the race, including 2015 Pirelli World Challenge GTA Champion Frankie Montecalvo, Charles Putman, Charles Espenlaub, Joe Foster and Vic Rice.

***Former open-wheel ace Alex Tagliani, meanwhile, makes his 24H Dubai debut in a HRT Performance Porsche 991 Cup car.

***Mohammed bin Sulayem, the Vice President of the FIA, and President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, visited the paddock on Wednesday and took part in the presentation of Black Falcon’s Mercedes-AMG GT3s. He will serve as the race starter on Friday.

***Further development has been announced at the Dubai Autodrome, with a new retail plaza located in the grandstand area set to accommodate 11 new retail units overlooking the start/finish straight, as well as a large outdoor terrace.

***Watch the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai on the series’ official Web site, with lights-to-flag coverage of the race, which begins Saturday at 2 p.m. local (5 a.m. ET). Full 24-hour coverage will also be available on Motors TV and on

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John


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