Weather conditions are expected to play a major role in the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai, with rain forecast for much of the race and limited drainage on the circuit.
Overnight rain left sizeable puddles around the track and surrounding area on account of the circuit’s very limited drainage capacity.
Most in the paddock expect the rain to necessitate a red flag at some point during the race, partly because of the standing water and also because of the amount of less experienced Am drivers in the field.
Many teams have been shy to reveal their tire strategies, but it’s understood that there is significant variation in rain tire availabilities throughout the paddock.
Some teams only have the standard allocation of three sets of Hankook rain tires, some ordered more in advance, and others purchased additional sets in the last few days, causing Hankook to air-freight more in from Germany during the week.
GPX Racing, which is based at the circuit and knows the facility better than most of its rivals, is prepared for any eventuality.
It is running a Porsche 911 GT3 R for Dirk Werner, Julien Andlauer, Stuart Hall, Jordan Grogor and Frederic Fatien.
“We ordered a lot of rain tires because we don’t want to gamble anything and not have enough tires,” team principal Pierre-Brice Mena told Sportscar365.
“I have enough rain tires to do the whole race, so if it is rain we can go until the last hour.
“There is no big stress but I know there are some teams on just a few sets of tires. I don’t want to be in this configuration because it is not our spirit.
“If there is a lot of rain on this track, the rain will maybe be red-flagged or canceled.
“I remember in 2008 when they did the FIA GT3 final here, it was raining a lot and they canceled the race because there was so much water on the track. It is not designed for rain.”
Some teams with a limited supply of rain tires are somewhat confident they won’t run into too many issues if a red flag is called, meaning cars would not have to circulate on track in wet conditions.
“There is quite a high possibility to have a red flag during the race but I hope they will not stop it until the end,” added Mena.
“Probably, at one point, they will have to red flag the race because there is not too much drainage and you can have a lot of water quite quickly.
“The rain will not help anybody but it will be more of a gamble on track because there will be a lot of Code 60s, and probably a lot of crashes et cetera.”
Current forecasts predict a chance of rain throughout the race, but highest from around 8 p.m. local time on Friday until 7 a.m. on Saturday.
The race will get underway at 3 p.m. this afternoon (6 a.m. EST / 11 a.m. GMT).