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Dubai Weekend Notebook

Sportscar365’s weekend notebook from the 24H Dubai paddock…

Photo: Creventic

***A parade through the nearby Dubai Motor City was held on Wednesday evening (pictured above), with all cars driving from the circuit and along the main street behind the main grandstand, which is a busy shopping district. It received a large turnout and cars were joined by a selection of supercars from the Dubai Police Force.

***Dubai Autodrome general manager Faisal Al Sahlawi spoke at the parade and later the pre-event barbecue held on the pit straight, and confirmed next year’s race date of Jan. 14-16, moving one weekend later. It’s expected that the Rolex 24 at Daytona and its preceding Roar Before the Rolex 24 test will also be moved back by one week, maintaining the same relative calendar positioning, with 24H Dubai the weekend after the Roar and two weekends before the Rolex 24.

***Reigning race winner Rik Breukers will race two cars, splitting his time between the Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evos entered by Car Collection Motorsport and MS7 by WRT. The Dutchman won with Car Collection last year along with Christopher Haase and Dimitri Parhofer, both of whom return this year. That lineup is completed by Markus Winkelhock and Mike-David Ortmann, while Frederic Vervisch drove last year. Breukers’ other teammates at WRT are Christopher Mies, Dries Vanthoor, Michael Vergers and Mohammed Saud Fahad Al Saud.

***WRT is the only team pulling double duty between Dubai and Daytona this year, and team principal Vincent Vosse will be in attendance at both events. The team has two Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evos at Dubai and four factory drivers split across its lineups: Christopher Mies, Dries Vanthoor, Mirko Bortolotti and Kelvin van der Linde.

***Former Lamborghini factory driver Bortolotti is not the only driver to move to WRT from Grasser Racing Team. Rolf and Marc Ineichen are both in the No. 31 car alongside Bortolotti and van der Linde, while Breukers is in the MS7 by WRT entry. Rolf Ineichen, Breukers and Bortolotti won the Rolex 24 at Daytona with Grasser last year in addition to Breukers’ Dubai win 12 months ago.

***Bortolotti says his teammates’ moves are not associated with him, but more a coincidence. “I did my own way, they did their way, and at the end of the day we found each other!” he joked. “With Rolf I have shared many programs and projects in the past with great success in America in the last two seasons together. We have a really good connection, a good friendship. They both are really motivated to do a good job.”

***Earl Bamber Motorsport is using a Porsche 911 GT3 R chassis from Herberth Motorsport this weekend, as both of the team’s usual chassis are heading to Australia for next month’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour. Its GT3 Am entry is shared by Will Bamber, Juergen Haering, Tim Mueller, Gerard Lopez and Eric Lux.

***Rain is forecast for much of the weekend and is currently expected to last for much of the race. Sportscar365 understands that Hankook has air-freighted additional rain tires from Germany on short notice for teams to use in addition to their standard three sets of rain tires.

***New lights signifying Code 60 periods have been installed around the circuit for use alongside flags. The lights will aid visibility during the night time, and have been implemented by SPAA05, the company that manages the LED position display panels on the side of the cars.

***Only two of the eight Mercedes-AMG GT3s competing are carrying the brand-new 2020 Evo package for its race debut this weekend. SPS Automotive Performance’s Pro car and CP Racing’s Am car are upgraded to 2020 spec. The new car received a weight break after qualifying and is now running 10 kg heavier than the previous model as per the Balance of Performance, but with the same restrictor size and fuel capacity. 

***Beitske Visser received a last-minute call-up to drive 3Y Technology’s BMW M4 GT4 on Wednesday evening and arrived in Dubai on Thursday morning. She had a similar experience last week with a call to head to Daytona to test Fast Track Racing’s BMW GT4 just a couple of days before the Roar.

***Creventic has restructured a number of its classes for the 2020 season, including a renaming of A6 Pro and A6 Am to GT3 Pro and GT3 Am. SP2 and SPX have merged to become GTX for special GT cars not permitted in other classes, while a TCR Light class has also been introduced for older TCR cars from 2015 or 2016.

***Teams competing in the 24H Series Europe will have their worst result scratched from the final standings, with just five of six races counting for points for each team. This also allows teams or drivers to miss one race without losing out on points.

***In the 24H Series Continents, comprising 24-hour races at Dubai, Circuit of The Americas, Portimao and Barcelona, drivers must compete in at least one race on each continent. They can choose between Portimao and Barcelona if not doing both European rounds, but any driver who does not also race at Dubai or COTA will not score points towards the Continents championship.

***Legendary motorcycle racer Mick Doohan is on-site this weekend to support his son Jack, who is competing in the F3 Asian Championship support race. Mick Doohan won five consecutive 500cc World Championships (predecessor to MotoGP) between 1994 and 1998. Also on the entry list in F3 Asia are Jamie Chadwick, Pietro Fittipaldi and Tatiana Calderon.

***The 15th edition of the 24H Dubai will get underway at 3 p.m. local time on Friday (6 a.m. EST / 11 a.m. GMT) with live streaming on the series’ website. Commentary will be provided by Radio Le Mans, with John Hindhaugh and Jonny Palmer in the booth and Nick Daman, Bruce Jones and Joe Bradley in the pits.

René de Boer contributed to this report

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

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