Team WRT has scored a dominant 1-2 sweep in the Hankook 24H Dubai, led by the Saudi-entered, MS7-backed Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo of Dries Vanthoor, Christopher Mies, Thomas Neubauer, Axcil Jefferies and Mohammed Saud Fahad Al Saud.
Mies took the No. 7 Audi to a one-lap victory over the sister full WRT-badged No. 31 entry of Frederic Vervisch, Benjamin Goethe, Arnold Robin, Maxime Robin and Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer in an action-packed 24H Series season-opener.
After an early charge from several Porsche entries that led early, the Belgian Audi squad took control of the race from the sixth hour, although came under challenge from the No. 77 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, bidding to become the first non-German car to win the race in its 17-year history.
However, those hopes faded when the British-run Lamborghini was forced into retirement with five hours to go with terminal issues while running third.
It gave clear sailing for the pair of Audis, which finished three laps ahead of its closest competition.
WRT claimed its second 24H Dubai overall win following its triumph on debut in 2016, while it marked Audi’s third win in the race and first since Car Collection Motorsport’s victory in 2019.
Dubai-based Zimbabwean Jefferies, who was a last-minute call-up to replace the COVID-19 positive Michael Vergers, meanwhile, scored back-to-back overall wins after taking top honors in a GPX Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R last year.
Both WRT cars gained time in the early stages of the race after making strategic pit stops under Code 60s for fuel, benefitting from its track position compared to the Barwell Lamborghini and No. 4 Abu Dhabi Racing by HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.
The HRT Mercedes, on at least one occasion, was forced to bypass the refueling station due to a large queue at the fuel pumps during the race neutralizations, in the largest field in four years.
A late fuel stop by Raffaele Marciello gave the final overall podium position to the No. 75 SunEnergy1 by SPS Automotive Performance Mercedes of Mikael Grenier, Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Kenny Habul.
It came after a hard-fought battle between Engel and the No. 4 HRT entry of Manuel Metzger, who passed the factory driver with less than three hours to go.
However, those positions were reversed with less than ten minutes to go, courtesy of a fuel conservation run by Grenier, who finished just 7.797 seconds ahead of Marciello’s HRT Mercedes, which came home fourth.
Mercedes-AMG picked up GT3 Am and Pro-Am class honors, thanks to runs by CP Racing and MP Motorsport, respectively.
Charlie Putman, Charles Espenlaub, Shane Lewis and late addition Phil Quaife drove the nearly all-American effort to an eighth place overall finish after briefly leading outright in the opening hours.
The No. 92 Grove-backed Herberth Motorsport Porsche, anchored by Sven Mueller and Repco Supercars Championship star Anton De Pasquale, was classified sixth overall ahead of the No. 99 Attempto Racing Audi in seventh.
Top class honors in the new 992-Pro category went to the No. 934 Team GP-Elite Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car of the all-Dutch lineup of Lucas Groeneveld, Jesse van Kuijk, Daan van Kuijk and Max van Splunteren while PK Carsport’s Audi R8 LMS GT2, in its 24-hour debut, won the GTX class with drivers Peter Guelinckx, Bert Longin, Stienes Longin and Stijn Lowette.
Goethe-Led Dragon Squad Picks Up GT4 Class Honors
Dragon Racing’s Mercedes-AMG GT4 of father-and-son pairing Roald and Oliver Goethe, Stuart Hall and Jordan Grogor came out on top in the GT4 class, one lap ahead of The Heart of Racing’s Aston Martin Vantage GT4 which came home second in class.
The No. 159 BBR Cupra TCR DSG of Kantadhee Kusiri, Kantasak Kusiri, Anusorn Asiralertsiri, Tanart Sathienthirakul and Pasarit Promsombat was the highest-placed finishing TCE entry in 36th overall, winning the TCR class as a result.
TCX class honors went to the series pole-sitting Les Deux Arbres Ligier JS2 R of Steve and Patrick Zacchia, Antoine Lepesqueux, Christophe Bouchut and Larbre Competition team boss Jack Leconte, in his final race as a driver.
In addition to the Barwell Lamborghini’s retirement, several other high profile GT3 cars failed to finish, including the two Dinamic Motorsport Porsches, which both crashed out by Friday evening.
The three BMW M4 GT3s, which were making its customer racing debuts, all had challenging runs, including an accident in the fifth hour for the No. 30 Schubert Motorsport entry and overheating issues for the pair of ST Racing entries.
The No. 28 ST BMW was the best placed M4 GT3 at the end in 21st overall.
RESULTS: 24H Dubai