A record grid of 95 cars, totaling more than 400 drivers, are set to kick off the international sports car racing season this week in the Middle East, with the tenth anniversary edition of the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai.
The annual twice-around-the-clock enduro, which gets underway on Friday, also marks the start of a new era with the first round of the new FIA-recognized 24H Series, which will award an end-of-year champion in the six-round international endurance championship.
ENTRY LIST: Hankook 24H Dubai
FIA GT3-spec cars will again take center stage this week, with nearly 30 cars entered in the A6 class, including defending race winners Stadler Motorsport with its Porsche 997 GT3-R.
Nearly all of the major GT3 manufacturers are represented this year, including Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari, BMW, Lamborghini, Nissan and Aston Martin, as well as a GTE-spec Corvette C6.R that will also do battle for overall honors.
Additional classes that are set to do battle include SP2, SP3, Cup 1, A3T, A2 and a Porsche 997 class, which features no fewer than 18 Porsche Cup cars.
“We are delighted with this huge interest for our race,” said Creventic’s Gerrie Willems. “Once again, there is a good variety with touring cars and GT cars in the field and an excellent mix of drivers with many amateurs, gentlemen drivers, semi-professionals and even some pros.
“As usual, we expect the professionals to respect the amateur drivers and to adapt the philosophy of our event: affordable costs, a convivial atmosphere with teams and drivers from all over the world and fair competition on the track.
“These are the main characteristics, not only in Dubai, but for all rounds of the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook, allowing all teams and drivers to enjoy the fascination of motorsport together.”
While official on-track activity does not begin until Thursday, teams will have the opportunity to take part in an optional four-hour test on Wednesday afternoon.
A pair of practice sessions are on tap for Thursday, followed by qualifying and night practice, with the race getting underway Friday at 2 p.m. local (5 a.m. ET).
For the first time, Motors TV will provide live lights-to-flag coverage of the entire race, while a live stream will also be available on the series’ official Web site.