For the second year running and for the third time in the event’s 14-year history, a Lamborghini will be on pole position for the Hankook 24H DUBAI. On his 29th birthday, Mirko Bortolotti gave himself and his teammates the best present by posting the fastest outright qualifying lap time of 1m57.446s in the GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 (#63, Mirko Bortolotti / Christian Engelhart / Rolf Ineichen / Mark Ineichen). Bortolotti repeated his qualifying result at Dubai Autodrome from last year. “Again, it was hard work, but it shows that there is still plenty of speed in the old lady,” he laughed. The race in Dubai marks the final outing for the team’s current Lamborghini Huracán GT3, the new Evo version making its competition debut at the next event. Lamborghini enjoyed a clean sweep of the A6 class as Danish driver Dennis Lind put the Target Racing Huracán GT3 (#12, Dennis Lind / Giacomo Altoé / Timur Boguslavskiy / Stefano Constantini / Alex Autumn) on pole position in the A6-Am class.
Competition between the GRT and Target Racing Lamborghini and various Audis in the A6-Pro class was close, with the two Black Falcon Mercedes-AMGs and the V8 Racing Corvette also in the mix. Eventually, Christopher Haase was fastest of the Audi drivers as he put the Car Collection R8 LMS (#88, Dimitri Parhofer / Christopher Haase / Frédéric Vervisch / Rik Breukers) second on the grid, just ahead of the WRT Audi (#7, Mohammed Saud Fahal Al Saud / Michael Vergers / Christopher Mies / Dries Vanthoor) and the BWT Mücke Motorsport Audi (#9, Markus Wikelhock / Mike David Ortmann / Andreas Weishaupt / Stefan Mücke / Ricardo Feller). Last year’s Dubai race winners, the Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#2, Abdulaziz Al Faisal / Hubert Haupt / Yelmer Buurman / Saud Al Faisal / Adam Christodoulou) qualified sixth overall and fifth in A6-Pro.
In between, Dennis Lind secured the A6-Am pole position with the Target Racing Lamborghini after a long battle with two Dutch Mercedes-AMG drivers, Christiaan Frankenhout in the Hofor Racing car (#10, Michael Kroll / Chantal Prinz / Alexander Prinz / Kenneth Heyer / Christiaan Frankenhout) and Indy Dontje in the HTP Motorsport entry (#25, Alexander Hrachowina / Martin Konrad / Bernd Schneider / Indy Dontje / Brice Bosi). While the Hofor Racing team secured second place in class, the HTP team lost out on a top-three qualifying result thanks to a last-gasp challenge by Robert Renauer in the Herberth Motorsport Porsche (#91, Daniel Allemann / Ralf Bohn / Robert Renauer / Alfred Renauer), who pipped Dontje for third place by a mere 0.027 seconds.
There was even more success for Lamborghini as pole position in the SPX class went to the brand from Sant’Agata Bolognese as well, Fredrik Schandorff topping the class time sheets throughout the session in the Leipert Motorsport Huracán Super Trofeo (#710, Harald Schlotter / Jake Rattenbury / Markus Påverud / Khaled Al Mudhaf / Frederik Schandorff). The Vortex V8 Vortex 1 (#701, Arnaud Gomez / Olivier Gomez / Alban Varutti) ended up second in class from the MRS GT-Racing Porsche 911 Cup car with an all-Brazilian line-up (#990, Werner Neugebauer / Daniel Schneider / Ricardo Mauricio / Dennis Dirani).
In the Porsche 991 Cup class, Dane Benny Simonsen scored an undisputed pole position in the race:pro motorsport car (#916, Bertram Hornung / John Shen / Benny Simonsen / Philippe Descombes). UAE-based team Duel Racing (#950, Ramzi Moutran / Nabil Moutran / Sami Moutran / Charlie Eastwood) and MSG HRT Motorsport (#969, Holger Harmsen / Anton Lyubchenkov / Stefan Aust / Lucas Mauron) rounded out the top three in class.
Jordan Witt secured pole position in the GT4 class with the Ciceley Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4 (#462, Jordan Witt / Frank Bird / Derek Pierce / Ben Paliwoda) from the Hofor Racing powered by Bonk Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 (#50, Martin Kroll / Michael Schrey / Gustav Engljähringer / Michael Fischer / Liesette Braams) and the QSR Racingschool Mercedes-AMG GT4 (#454, Jimmy de Breucker / Rodrique de Gillon / Michiel Verhaeren / Nico Verdonck).
Steven Wells puts CWS Engineering Ginetta G55 on TCE pole in Dubai
Qualifying action for the Hankook 24H DUBAI got underway with a 45-minute session for the TCE division with TCR, A3, SP3 and CUP1 touring cars at Dubai Autodrome on Thursday afternoon. In the usual tight battle for the outright fastest times between the SP3 and TCR cars, it was an SP3 entry that came out on top as Steven Wells put the CWS Engineering Ginetta G55 (#378, Colin White / Steven Wells / Olivier Barron / Angus Fender) on pole position with a time of 2m09.035s. “It was a little bit loose, but that is the way I like to drive the car,” Steven Wells commented to Radiolemans.com’s Nick Daman. Second place in SP3 went to the Vortex V8 Scirocco (#301, Philippe Bonnel / Thomas Cordelier / Franck Lefèvre / Nicolas Nobs) in 13th place overall.
The most fascinating battle in TCE qualifying probably was the one for the coveted TCR class pole position. Driving the AC Motorsport Audi RS 3 LMS (#188, Stéphane Perrin / Vincent Radermecker / Tom Boonen / Gilles Magnus), Vincent Radermecker was the early pace-setter and topped the class time sheets for quite a while, but a spirited charge by Yannick Mettler saw the Autorama Volkswagen by Wolf-Power Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR (#112, Marlon Menden / Fabian Danz / Yannick Mettler / Stefan Tanner / Jerôme Ogay) briefly on top. It didn’t take long for Radermecker to respond. With his time of 2m09.571s, the Belgian was the only TCR driver to post a sub 2m10s lap time and secured pole position in class as a result, repeating his Dubai class pole from last year. He will be lining up on the front row of the TCE grid. “Starting from the front row is a good situation,” Vincent Radermecker commented to Radiolemans.com’s Joe Bradley. The Swiss-entered Volkswagen ended up second in class from the LMS Racing by Bas Koeten Racing-Audi RS 3 LMS (#129, Antti Buri / Olli Kangas / Kari-Pekka Laaksonen).
With nine TCR cars rounding out the overall top ten in TCE behind the pole-winning CWS Ginetta, the fastest of the two Lotus PB Racing Lotus Elises (#634, Stefano d’Aste / Matteo Deflorian / Nicolò Liana / Michael Cordini) followed in eleventh place overall as the pace-setter in the A3 class. The G R Motorsport BMW E46 M3 (#603, Danny van Dosselaer / Karlo van Dosselaer / Geert Houdhoofdt / Geert Dierckx / Jasper Dierckx) ended up second in class from the second PB Racing Lotus (#633, Vito Utierzi / Marco Fumagalli / Mauro Guastamacchia / Maurizio Fortina / Mark Speakerwas).
Christopher Rink put the fun-M Motorsport BMW M235i Racing Cup (#802, Simon Klemund / Paul Sieljes / Christopher Rink / Ioannis Smyrlis / Harald Rettich) on pole in the two-car CUP1 class, followed by the DUWO Racing entry (Frédéric Schmit / Nicolas Schmit / Jean-Marie Dumont / Thierry Chkondall / Youssef Bassil).
Following a warm-up from 11.00-11.30 hrs, the 14th running of the Hankook 24H DUBAI gets underway at 15.00 hrs local time tomorrow (12.00 hrs CET), Friday 11 January. Live streaming in HD quality with commentary from the Radio Show Limited team, well-known from IMSA Radio and Radio Le Mans, is available on the series’ website and Youtube channel as well as Motortrend on Demand. There will also be regular updates on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (24H Series). Further information can be found at www.24hseries.com.
Photo credit: Petr Frýba