Winners seen during a victory parade at the end of the Hankook 24H DUBAI race on Saturday.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
The UAE-based GPX Racing has become only the second Emirati team to take outright victory at the Hankook 24H DUBAI after a commanding performance at the Dubai Autodrome on Saturday.
The GPX Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R (#36, Axcil Jefferies / Frederic Fatien / Mathieu Jaminet / Julien Andlauer / Alain Ferte) secured a lead it would never lose on lap 124, driving a faultless race thereafter to pull over three minutes clear of their nearest rivals at the chequered flag, completing 600 laps of the 5.39km Dubai Autodrome in the process.
GPX Racing thus becomes the first Emirati team to take an outright win at the Hankook 24H DUBAI since Abu Dhabi Racing by Black Falcon pulled the double in 2012 and 2013.
The result also secures Porsche a record-extending sixth win at the event.
“It’s fantastic and I’m so happy for the team,” Axcil Jefferies told radiolemans.com’s Ian Salvestrin.
“The guys worked so hard this whole week – they rebuilt the car two or three times – and they believed in us, so it’s great to reward them.
“And of course all the drivers did an amazing job. We pushed early on to build up a gap and then went into safety management mode in the last two hours to make sure we could bring the car home.”
Participating teams in action during the race.
In a dramatic moment, WRT, the Hankook24H DUBAI winner of 2016, managed to leapfrog into second place inside the final hour.
The WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo (#31, Dries Vanthoor / Kelvin van der Linde / Louis Machiels / Benjamin Goethe / Frank Bird) was closing in on the runner’s up spot in the closing stages when the HRT Bilstein Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo (#4, Hubert Haupt / Maro Engel / Patrick Assenheimer / Ryan Ratcliffe / Khaled Al Qubaisi) was brought into the pits for a driver change with just 40 minutes left on the clock. The Audi and the Mercedes were split by less than 30 seconds at the flag.
Third place for HRT Bilstein nevertheless secures three-time event winners Hubert Haupt – the team owner – and the UAE’s Khaled Al Qubaisi their sixth and fifth outright podium finishes at the Hankook 24H DUBAI respectively.
The NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing Porsche 991-II Cup (#991, Harry Hilders / Gijs Bessem / Bob Herber / Roeland Voerman) took what turned out to be a comfortable win in the 991 class after problems befell the 2nd placed DUWO Racing Porsche 991-II Cup (#909, Andrey Mukovoz / Stanislav Sidoruk / Sergey Peregudov / Dylan Pereira).
The latter led the class throughout the opening half of the event, but ultimately lost 45 minutes in the pits to drivetrain problems. MRS GT-Racing (#989, Jeroen Bleekemolen / Timothy Pappas / Saif Alamer / Jukka Honkavuori) endured a character-building event, stopping twice on-track en-route to third in-class.
Canada’s ST Racing secured its first class win in the 24H SERIES with its BMW M4 GT4 (#438, Samantha Tan / Chandler Hull / Jon Miller / Nick Wittmer) after a flawless run in GT4. Reigning Overall GT Teams’ champion PROsport Racing got its title defense off to a good start with 2nd in-class with the Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 (#401, Nico Verdonck / Rodrigue Gillion / Stephane Lemeret / Patrik Matthiesen / Constantin Scholl).
The UAE’s Dragon Racing meanwhile followed up the GTX class victory at its home event last year with the final spot on the GT4 podium with its Mercedes-AMG GT4 (#488, Denis Remenyako / Adam Christodoulou / John Hartshorne / Ollie Hancock).
Endurance racing action continues on 26-27 March, as the SERIES powered by Hankook travels to the Autodromo Internazionale del Mugello in Italy for its first European round of the year, the Hankook 12H MUGELLO. One month later on 23-24-25 April, CREVENTIC will host the Hankook 12H SPA for the fourth consecutive year at the vaunted Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps.
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