Next month’s Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai is set to again feature a massive grid, with 98 cars on the latest version of the entry list for the 24H Series season-opener.
The twice-around-the-clock Middle Eastern enduro features a diverse mix of GT and touring car machinery, although more than two-dozen GT3-spec cars are set to do battle for overall honors in the A6 class.
ENTRY LIST: 24H Dubai
Defending overall winners Belgian Audi Club Team WRT will return with an increased effort, with a pair of Audi R8 LMS cars, headlined by factory drivers Christopher Mies, Marcel Fassler, as well as newly crowned Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup champion Enzo Ide.
Stuart Leonard is the only one of the four 2016 race-winning drivers to return to the Belgian squad and will team up with Ide, Mies, Robin Frijns and Ruben Maes in the No. 4 entry, with Fassler, Michael Vergers and Saudi Princes Mohammed Bin Saud Al Saud and Mohammed Bin Faisal Al Saud completing the lineup in the No. 5 car.
Perennial favorites Black Falcon will return to the site of the 24-hour race debut of the Mercedes-AMG GT3, with the likes of Jeroen Bleekemolen, Maro Engel and Yelmer Buurman confirmed in the German squad’s two-car effort.
24H Series champions Hofor Racing will also enter a Mercedes-AMG GT3, which will carry the No. 1 numberplate, with SPS automotive-performance, IDEC Sport Racing and HTP Motorsport, featuring Bernd Schneider, completing the seven-car strong effort with the second-generation GT3 car.
Lamborghini will also be out in force in Dubai, with four Huracan GT3s as well as three Super Trofeo models.
Grasser Racing Team will field a pair of GT3 cars, featuring factory driver Mirko Bortolotti as well as team regulars Christian Engelhart and Rolf Ineichen, with 18-year-old Dutchman Rik Breukers set for his team debut.
Konrad Motorsport, which nearly finished on the podium until suffering late-race engine failure, will again have a single Huracan GT3 for a revised lineup of Marc Basseng, Marco Mapelli, Jules Gounon and Luca Stolz, while an additional Huracan GT3 will be run by HB Racing.
Porsche’s 911 GT3 R will also be well-represented, with entries from Manthey Racing, Forch Racing, IMSA Performance, Attempto Racing and Herberth, including works drivers Sven Mueller (Manthey), Wolf Henzler (Forch) and Porsche Young Professionals Matteo Cairoli and Mathieu Jaminet placed at Manthey and IMSA Performance, respectively.
Additional Audi entries will be fielded by Optimum Motorsport, featuring factory ace Christopher Haase, as well as a returning two-car effort from Car Collection Motorsport.
The race will also feature an increased number of American drivers, mostly in the other classes.
Newly crowned Pirelli World Challenge GTS champion Brett Sandberg will team up with 2016 rivals Anthony Mantella and Chaponick Jr. in a Reiter Engineering-run KTM X-Bow in SP2, while Rotek Racing has entered a pair of Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsports in SP3-GT4, largely featuring American drivers.
Charles Espenlaub, Charlie Putnam and Joe Foster, meanwhile, will be joined by Andy Pilgrim in a PROsport Performance-entered Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car in the 991 class.
For the first time, the event will feature a support race in the debut of Creventic’s new 24H Proto Series, which will feature three three-hour races in the build up to the 24-hour race on Jan. 13-14.