Land Motorsport leads the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai at the six-hour mark, in a race that appears to have gone the way of Audi and Ferrari, with trouble hitting another new Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Carsten Tilke holds a 12-second lead over Matteo Cressoni in the No. 11 Scuderia Praha Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, in a gap that has been decreasing in the last 30 minutes.
Tilke’s co-driver, Connor De Phillippi, put in a starring drive in the fifth hour in the No. 28 Audi R8 LMS, as the former Porsche Junior driver took over the lead from Daniel Abt and opened up a comfortable margin over the pole-sitting No. 4 C.Abt Racing Audi.
Mercedes’ bid for a fourth overall victory in the last five years took another significant hit — quite literally — in the sixth hour when the No. 2 Black Falcon entry of Jeroen Bleelemolen made contact with the No. 999 Attempto Racing Porsche 997 GT3 R.
It resulted in front-end damage to the new Mercedes-AMG GT3, which is still in the garage undergoing repairs.
“Such a shame,” Bleekemolen told Radio Le Mans’ Nick Daman. “I was going into Turn 1 trying to overtake the Attempto Porsche and he kept coming across and we touched.
“He should have seen me. But at the same time, you should anticipate people not seeing you. I had nowhere to go.”
The only hope for Mercedes rests with the No. 16 Black Falcon SLS AMG GT3, which runs in fourth overall after starting dead last due to a chassis change from a fire on Thursday.
There have been a number of other incidents — and Code 60s — in recent hours, most of them being lengthy for barrier repairs or extended cleanups.