Fascinating battles mark first half of Dunlop 24H DUBAIFascinating battles, incidents and accidents and a fairly high attrition rate marked the first half of the eighth running of the Dunlop 24H DUBAI, that came to an end at Dubai Autodrome at 2 am local time. Just before the halfway mark, Claudia Hürtgen took over the lead with the only remaining Saudi Falcons-BMW Z4 (#24, Abdulaziz Al Faisal/Faisal Binladen/Jörg Müller/Claudia Hürtgen/Dirk Müller) from the AF Corse-Ferrari (#16, Lorenzo Carvalho/Lorenzo Case/Marco Cioci/Mika Salo). Having started from pole position, the Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon-Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 (#1, Khaled Al Qubaisi/Bernd Schneider/Jeroen Bleekemolen/Sean Edwards) had some minor tyre issues, but is still placed third.
There were no less than 25 overall lead changes in the first half of the race, with eight different teams taking turns in the lead. One of the surprising performances of the first hours of the race was delivered by the Swiss Stadler Motorsport-Porsche 997 GT3 R (#20, Rolf Ineichen/Marcel Matter/Adrian Armstutz/Marco Seefried), which figured in the top three for a very long time and even led for a considerable time. This was also partly due to the fact that the team had the lowest number of pit stops of all the cars in the top ten. Just before the halfway point, the Stadler-Porsche dropped back to eleventh overall and fourth in the A6-AM class, following an eleven minutes’ pit stop. That handed the A6-AM class lead to the Fach Auto Tech-Porsche (#8, Otto Klohs/Martin Ragginger/Carlo Lusser/Jens Richter) was fifth overall, holding on to a relatively comfortable lead in the A6-AM class.
The Crubilé Sport entry (#41, Francois Glenmor/Sébastien Crubilé/’Mr. John of B.’/Soheil Ayari) was leading the 997 class at the halfway mark, after erstwhile class leaders Black Falcon TMD Friction (#44, Christian von Rieff/Christian Raubach/Burkard Kaiser/Erwin Stückle/Patrick Huisman) were hit by another competitor, resulting into a repair of more than two hours.
The Bonk Motorsport-Corvette (#126, Tobias Guttroff/Joachim Kisch/Gerd Beisel/Peter Bonk/Tessitore) led in SP2, closely followed by the Equipe Verschuur-Renault Mégane (#98, Luc Braams/Duncan Huisman/Oliver Freymuth/Max Braams/J.J. Verheul). In SP3, the two Nissan PlayStation GT Academy-Nissan 370Z both had plenty of problems. Wolfgang Reip hit a tyre that had come loose off the car of another competitor and caused some damage to the front end of the #127 car (Lucas Ordonez/Wolfgang Reip/Mark Schulzitskiy/Steve Doherty/Roman Rusinov), while Sabine Schmitz crashed the sister car (#147, Sabine Schmitz/Peter Pyzera/Mark Schulzhitskiy/Steve Doherty/Alex Buncombe), after which the team had to put in a long repair break. That handed the lead in SP3 to the Cor Euser Racing-Lotus Evora (#148, Vic Rice/Shane Lewis/Henk Thijssen/Trevor Knight).
Class leaders in A5 were Dutch outfit JR Motorsport with the #63 BMW E46 GTR (Pieter van Soelen/Harry Hilders/Koen Bogaerts/Bas Schouten). In spite of a longer pit stop following suspension damage after being hit by another car, the all-female Dutch ‘Racing Divas’ team (#121, Liesette Braams/Sheila Verschuur/Gaby Uljee/Paulien Zwart/Sandra vander Sloot) are leading the A3T class with the BMW 320D. The #116 Red Camel-Jordans.nl-SEAT Leon TDI (#116, Kane Austin/Klaus Kresnik/Chris Gleeson/Toni Büeler/Ivo Breukers) is on top in D1. The Kuepperracing-BMW E46 Coupé (#62, Bernd Kuepper/Michael Kroll/Martin Kroll/Chantal Kroll/Roland Eggimann) is leading in A4 and the Besaplast Racing-Mini Cooper S (#102, Franjo Kovac/Martin Tschornia/Fredrik Lestrup/Ralf Eisenreich/Thomas Tekaat) is first in A2.
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