MS7 by WRT seals pole position under Saudi Arabia flag for Hankook 24H DUBAI

MS7 by WRT has secured its first outright pole position at the Hankook 24H DUBAI over Abu Dhabi Racing by HRT and Al Manar Racing by HRT after a closely-fought qualifying between all three Middle East teams.

The MS7 by WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 (#7, Mohammed Saud Fahad Al Saud / Axcil Jefferies / Dries Vanthoor / Christopher Mies / Thomas Neubauer), which has previously finished on the overall podium at the Hankook 24H DUBAI, set the fastest lap in the first of three, 15-minute GT qualifying sessions, but a succession of fast laps from the Abu Dhabi Racing by HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo (#4, Hubert Haupt / Khaled Al Qubaisi / Raffaele Marciello / Manuel Metzger) and a session-topping final run from the Al Manar Racing by HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#777, Al Faisal Al Zubair / Indy Dontje / Luca Stolz / Martin Konrad) meant the fight for GT pole position went down to the wire.

In the end, an average time of 1m 58.684s around the 5.39km Dubai Autodrome and the fastest lap of GT qualifying – a 1m 57.798s by Dries Vanthoor – meant MS7 by WRT managed to hold on to outright pole position for the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook season opener by just over three-tenths of a second.

The result marks the first time that an Audi has qualified on GT pole position at the Hankook 24H DUBAI since 2016.

Behind the Audi, Abu Dhabi Racing by HRT, which will run three-time event winners Hubert Haupt and Khaled Al Qubaisi this weekend, bested Al Manar Racing by just eight-hundredths of a second to secure a front row starting spot.

The Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R (#92, Stephen Grove / Brenton Grove / Anton De Pasquale / Sven Müller) will start fourth after a sensational run from Sven Müller secured the fastest lap in the second session. The Bavarian team though, a former winner of the Hankook 24H DUBAI in 2017, has already lost its #91 Porsche after a heavy accident with the PPM CUPRA TCR during private testing caused significant damage to the 991’s chassis.

Despite issues for its sister car, the DINAMIC MOTORSPORT Porsche 991 GT3 R (#54, Stanislav Minsky / Marvin Dienst / Murad Sultanov / Marco Seefried / Klaus Bachler) will start 5th ahead of the SunEnergy1 by SPS automotive performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#75, Kenny Habul / Mikaël Grenier / Maro Engel / Jules Gounon), WRT’s second Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo (#31, Benjamin Goethe / Arnold Robin / Maxime Robin / Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer / Frédéric Vervisch), and the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 (#77, Adrian Amstutz / Rolf Ineichen / Mirko Bortolotti / Rik Breukers).

The MP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#19, Henk de Jong / Daniel de Jong / Bert de Heus / Jaap van Lagen) will start from 9th place on the grid and from GT3-PRO-AM pole position, with nearest category rival and fellow Mercedes runner Racetivity (#83, François Perrodo / Charles-Henri Samani / Emmanuel Collard / Matthieu Vaxiviere) just two rows further back. ST Racing meanwhile, the reigning Overall GT Teams’ champion, makes its GT3 debut this weekend with two brand-new BMW M4 GT3s, and will start 3rd in-class (#1, Samantha Tan / Bryson Morris / Anthony Lazzaro / Harry Gottsacker / Tyler Maxson). Schubert Motorsport (#30, Nick Yelloly / Jordan Witt / Marcel Lenerz / Jens Liebhauser), which won the Hankook 24H DUBAI outright in 2011 and has also entered an M4 GT3 for this weekend, starts a little further back in 19th.

In a grandstand finish to qualifying, the CP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#85, Charles Putman / Charles Espenlaub / Philip Quaife / Shane Lewis) snatched GT3-AM pole position away from the debuting CapitalRT -YADRO Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#13, Denis Remenyako / Sergey Stolyarov / Victor Shaytar / Dmitry Gvazava) in the closing moments of qualifying. The PROsport Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 (#39, Maxime Dumarey / Guillaume Dumarey / Jean Glorieux / Simon Balcaen) makes a good start to its GT3 debut with the 3rd fastest average time in-class.

Barely half-a-second covered the top three in 992-PRO, with the Team GP-Elite Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (#933, Larry ten Voorde / Thierry Vermeulen / Roger Hodenius / Steven van Rhee) eclipsing Red (#909, Ivo Breukers / Julius Adomavičius / Morris Schuring / Jeroen Bleekemolen) for category pole after a storming final run. Just two-tenths adrift of the top two, the ID Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (#944, Christopher Zöchling / Philipp Sager / Bashar Mardini / Alexandr Artemyev / Jukka Honkavuori) rounds out the category top three in qualifying.

In an even closer contest, the Huber Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (#923, Gabriele Rindone / Matthias Hoffsümmer / Enrico Fulgenzi / Laurin Heinrich) has secured pole position in the newly-introduced 992-AM category by just 0.008s over HRT Performance (#929, Henric Skoog / Patrik Skoog / Emil Persson / Gustav Bergström). The returning FACH AUTO TECH (#961, Peter Hegglin / Marcel Wagner / Jan Klingelnberg / Dominik Fischli / Alexander Fach) lines up 3rd in-class for its first Hankook 24H DUBAI since 2018.

Rounding out the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup-specific categories in Dubai, Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors (#955, Fabrizio Broggi / Sergiu Nicolae / Sabino de Castro) led the debuting Red Ant Racing (#903, Ayrton Redant / Pieter Ooms / Glenn van Parijs / Yannick Redant) in ‘991’ qualifying, with NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#991, Gijs Bessem / Harry Hilders / Bob Herber / Daan Meijer) close behind in 3rd.

There was similarly little to choose between the Leipert Motorsport (#710, Gerhard Watzinger / Gregg Gorski / Erik Davis / Alban Varutti / Fidel Leib) and PK Carsport (#704, Peter Guelinckx / Bert Longin / Stienes Longin / Stijn Lowette) in GTX, the former’s Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo outpacing the latter’s average time by less than nine-hundreths of a second on the GT2-spec Audi R8 LMS’ series debut. razoon-more than racing (#714, Andreas Höfler / Robert Schiftner / Daniel Drexel / Kevin Raith / Dominik Olbert) was the highest-placed KTM X-BOW GTX and will start 3rd in-class.

GTX contender Vortex V8 (#701, Lionel Amrouche / Philippe Bonnel / Philippe Gruau / Sebastien Lajoux) was also in contention for GTX category pole position early on, but ended its qualifying with no drive on the run down to pit entry. A brief red flag was flown to recover the stricken French sports car.

Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4s led the way in an incredibly close GT4 qualifying, with PROsport Racing (#401, Rodrigue Gillion / Nico Verdonck / Guido Dumarey / Hugo Sasse / Mike David Ortmann) besting the Heart of Racing Team (#423, Gray Newell / Ian James / Roman De Angelis / Alex Riberas) by a wafer-thin 0.005s. Further back, the Dubai Autodrome-based Dragon Racing (#408, Roald Goethe / Oliver Goethe / Stuart Hall / Jordan Grogor), a multi-time class winner in Dubai, completes the GT4 top three in qualifying with its Mercedes-AMG GT4 ahead of series staple CWS Engineering (#478, Colin White / Mike Simpson / Lawrence Tomlinson / James Jake), which this weekend runs the new Ginetta G56 GT4 for the first time at a 24-hour event.