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Dubai Weekend Notebook

Jake Kilshaw’s weekend notebook from the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai…

Photo: Petr Fryba/Creventic

***A pre-race Balance of Performance change has been given to Grasser Racing Team’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 which will start the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai from pole. It has been given an additional 20 kg of weight, increasing the final minimum weight to 1310 kg.

***The five Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evos running in the A6-Pro category have been given a 5-liter decrease in fuel tank capacity, resulting in a measure of 95 liters.

***Mirko Bortolotti scored pole at Dubai for the second consecutive time, and started last year’s race in the lead but lost out after picking up a puncture on the ninth lap. His pole win yesterday came on his 29th birthday.

***V8 Racing and Grasser each topped one of Wednesday’s two unofficial paid practice sessions, with Duncan Huisman and Bortolotti setting each team’s respective lap times. Huisman set the quicker time, a 1:59.171, in his Corvette C6-ZR1 which he shares with Max Braams, Finlay Hutchison, Wolf Nathan and Rick Abresch.

***The times from Wednesday’s pair of three-hour sessions can be viewed here and here.

***Race director Martin van de Pavert served as clerk of the course at Zandvoort last weekend for the New Year Race, the second round of the Dutch Winter Endurance Championship. Bas Koeten Racing, which has two TCR cars competing at Dubai, was amongst the entry.

***Matteo Nanini, the nephew of former Formula 1, DTM and 24H Hours of Le Mans driver Alessandro Nanini, is competing in the Formula 4 UAE Championship which is on the support bill this weekend. This round is the first of five weekends for the series until early March, with events alternating between Dubai and Yas Marina.

***Cor Euser Racing has purchased a MARC Cars Mustang to replace its BMW M3 and will debut the car at the 12 Hours of Mugello on March 29-30.

***Audi has a large customer presence this weekend, with a combination of GT3 and TCR cars. Eight R8 LMS GT3 Evos are running, with entries from WRT, BWT Muecke Motorsport, Sainteloc, Car Collection Motorsport and Attempto Racing. The manufacturer also has five RS3 LMS TCR cars competing.

***Yutaka Matsushima crashed one of MRS GT-Racing’s Porsche 911-II Cup cars during paid practice on Wednesday, forcing the No. 980 crew to miss Free Practice. The team took the car to a local workshop for repairs and it was back on track to set a flying lap in qualifying.

***Adam Christodoulou was a late addition to Black Falcon’s lineup alongside Yelmer Buurman, Hubert Haupt, Abdulaziz Al Faisal and Saud Al Faisal. The Brit revealed on Twitter that the team only called him on Wednesday evening and he travelled to Dubai from the UK during Thursday.

***Jaap van Lagen was also added to MP Motorsport’s lineup with its Mercedes-AMG GT3 running in A6-Am. The Dutchman was already at the track as a driver coach but has been brought in to partner Daniel de Jong, Bert de Heus and Henk de Jong.

***Fourteen drivers competing this weekend (Oliver Jarvis, Christopher Haase, Rolf Ineichen, Mirko Bortolotti, Christian Engelhart, Markus Winkelhock, Dries Vanthoor, Christopher Mies, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Ben Keating, Luca Stolz, Frederic Vervisch, Kelvin van der Linde, Klaus Bachler) will also take part in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in a fortnight’s time. Most flew to Dubai directly from the Roar Before the 24 test last weekend.

***Grasser’s European plans are coming into place, with the team planning to run three cars in ADAC GT Masters, two in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and one or two in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe.

***Team owner Gottfried Grasser confirmed to Sportscar365 that the Austrian operation is contracted with Lamborghini until the end of 2021, and will run one factory car in each series this season, in addition to its IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup entry.

***Sportscar365 understands that Andrea Caldarelli still plans to enter the Blancpain GT Series with his FFF Racing Team operation, and is working to also secure factory status for one of his Lamborghinis. 

***GP Extreme, the Dubai-based team which is set for an expanded GT3 program this season with the new Porsche 911 GT3 R, has become an official partner of the Formula Renault Eurocup. The team is competing this weekend with a previous-gen Porsche GT3, and has a large presence in the paddock with a merchandise stand behind its garage.

***KCMG’s Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, which it raced in the FIA GT Nations Cup in Bahrain several weeks ago, is on display in the paddock.

***Creventic’s new 24H Series Middle East Championship gets underway later this month with a six-hour race at Dubai. Seventeen cars are currently entered, including a combination of prototypes, GTs and TCR entries.

***French outfit 3Y Technology has committed two BMW M4 GT4s and one BMW M6 GT3 for the race, while MRS GT-Racing has also entered an M6 GT3.

***A four-hour race at Abu Dhabi will take place on the following weekend, with a ten-hour enduro at Dubai rounding out the season on Feb. 8. All three rounds will be supported by the TCR Middle East series.

***The Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai gets underway at 3 p.m. local time (11 a.m. GMT / 6 a.m. EST) and will be streamed live on the 24H Series website with commentary from Radio Le Mans.

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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