Dubai: German team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon, comprising four drivers Khalid Al Qubaisi, Sean Edwards, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Thomas Jäger, completed a total of 628 laps to establish a new record distance and win the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai at the Dubai Autodrome yesterday.
The second and third places went to the Heico Motorsport team, respectively, with Bernd Schneider, Maximilian Buhk, Christiaan Frankenhout, Max Nilsson and Andreas Zuber finishing second from the team with the sister car consisting of Bernd Schneider, Kenneth Heyer, Andreas Simonsen and Rodolfo Gonzalez.
Last year's winning team, Saudi Falcons by Schubert, saw its drivers Abdul Aziz Al Faisal, Faisal Bin Laden, Edward Sandström, Jörg Müller and Claudia Hürtgen with the BMW Z4, in contention for a podium finish for most of the race.
But debris in the air intake with some three hours remaining made them drop to fourth position, where they finished their run.
Winning the Dunlop 24h Dubai was the first victory for Mercedes-Benz in a 24-hour race since the Mercedes-powered Sauber C9 won the 1989 Le Mans 24-hours. After 24 hours at the Dubai Autodrome, Khalid Al Qubaisi drove the Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon team's Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG with starting number 3 across the finish line.
Taking the hump
Together with Bernd Schneider and Andreas Simonsen, the drivers of the two Heico-Mercedes-Benz SLS AMGs that came second and third, Al Qubaisi was then invited for the traditional camel ride to the winners' podium for the prize-giving ceremony.
"This was just fantastic. We tried it last year, but didn't succeed, but this year, everything has come our way," said Al Qubaisi
"Winning this race is something very special," he added.
The Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon-Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 moved up into the lead for the first time in the second hour of the race and remained in the top three for most of the race, never more than one lap down on the lead, which it held onto itself for a very long time.
Behind the three Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG's that locked out the podium and the BMW Z4 in fourth place, the best-placed Porsche in this year's Dunlop 24h Dubai was the number 18-Fach Auto Tech entry, driven by Otto Klohs, Heinz Bruder, Carlo Lusser, Martin Ragginger and Swen Dolenc to finish fifth.
Victory in the 997 class went to the Carworld Motorsport-Porsche, driven by Steve Matthyssen, Philippe Richard, Roger Grouwels and Robert Nearn.
The British Optimum Motorsport team scored a class win in SP3 with its Ginetta G50 and drivers Lee Mowle, Joseph Osborne, Gary Simms and George Murellis.
The SP2 honours were claimed by the Las Moras Racing Team with Luc Braams, Ronald Morien, Duncan Huisman and Michael Munemann driving the Renault Mégane Trophy.
French team Le Duigou Racing won class A5 with the BMW M3 and drivers Jean-Paul Pagny, Benoit Fretin, Bruno Fretin, Eric Vincenot and Jean-Marc Bachelier while the Besaplast Racing Team took the spoils in the A2 class with its Mini, driven by Franjo Kovac, Martin Tschornia, Cora Schumacher, Fredrik Lestrup and Reinhard Nehls.