At 14.00 hrs local time, a total of 92 cars took the start at Dubai Autodrome to get the twelfth running of the Hankook 24H DUBAI underway. Numerous visitors, fans and friends of the teams enjoyed the pre-race activities on the packed starting grid before the field got underway for the two formation laps, following by the traditional rolling start for the season opener of the 2017 24H SERIES powered by Hankook.
As the lights went out, pole-sitter Jeroen Bleekemolen led the field into the first corner with the Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#2, Khaled Al Qubaisi/Jeroen Bleekemolen/Patrick Assenheimer/Manuel Metzger), followed by Mirko Bortolotti in the GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini (#963, Mirko Bortolotti/Christian Engelhart/Rik Breukers/Rolf Ineichen/Mark Ineichen). A charging Sven Müller brought the Manthey Porsche (#12, Otto Klohs/Sven Müller/Matteo Cairoli/Jochen Krumbach) quickly up into third place, but the team dropped back to tenth following an early pit stop during a code-60 neutralisation after the ZRT Motorsport Honda Integra (#48, Jonathan Mullan/Umair Khan/Graham Davidson/Chris Yarwood) had stopped on track with a technical issue.
The class leaders after one hour are the V8 Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6-ZR1 (#18, Wolf Nathan/Rick Abresch/Luc Braams/Duncan Huisman/Alex van ‘t Hoff) in A6-Am, the Fach Auto Tech Porsche 991 Cup MR (#51, Thomas Fleischer/Peter Joos/Marcel Wagner/Heinz Bruder/Martin Ragginger) in SPX, the race:pro motorsport Porsche 991 Cup (#63, Stanislav Minsky/Murad Sultanov/Klaus Bachler/Carlos Rivas/Mark Wallenwein) in 991, the Bovi Motorsport Brokernet Silversting (#207, Wolfgang Kaufmann/Kalman Bodis/Jaap van Lagen/Heino Bo Fredriksen) in SP2, the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan 370Z GT4 (#123, Jann Mardenborough/Ricardo Sanchez/Romain Sarazin/Johnny Guindi) in SP3-GT4, the Modena Motorsports SEAT Leon TCR (#216, Wayne Shen/John Shen/Francis Tjia/Mathias Beche) in TCR, the Team Altran Peugeot Peugeot 208 GTi (#308, Guillaume Roman/Thierry Blaise/Kim Holmgaard/Michael Carlsen) in A3, the Sorg Rennsport BMW M235i Racing Cup (#152, Ahmed Al Melaihi/Jesus Diez/José Manuel de los Milagros/George Richardson/Shawn Peh) in Cup1 and the Team Eva Solo/K-Rejser Peugeot TCZ (#171, Jacob Kristensen/Jan Engelbrecht/Thomas Sørensen/Jens Mølgaard/Henrik Sørensen) in A2.
Prior to the start of the Hankook 24H DUBAI, Gulf region motorsport history was written with the first two races of the new TCR Middle East touring car series. 16-year-old German Luca Engstler, the son of seasoned touring car racer Franz Engstler, came out on top in the first race, which was the first-ever touring car race for the single-seater convert. American driver Brian Gdovic, the only driver racing in the prototype series, the TCR series and the Hankook 24H DUBAI this week, took the spoils in race two, making it two wins in a row for the Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagens.
The Hankook 24H DUBAI runs until tomorrow (14 January) at 14.00 hrs local time. Live streaming in HD quality and commentary by Radiolemans.com will be available on the website www.24hseries.com. There will also be regular updates on Facebook (24H Series), Twitter (@24HSeries) and Instagram (24H Series).