MS7 by WRT has secured the third overall win for Audi at the Hankook 24H DUBAI with a commanding 1-2 for the Audi R8 LMS and the sister WRT entry. The result also marks the first win for a team run under the Saudi Arabian flag in the event’s 17-year history.
MS7 by WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 (#7, Mohammed Saud Fahad Al Saud / Axcil Jefferies / Dries Vanthoor / Christopher Mies / Thomas Neubauer) started the event from pole position, and comfortably held off the charging Abu Dhabi Racing by HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo (#4, Hubert Haupt / Khaled Al Qubaisi / Raffaele Marciello / Manuel Metzger) in the early stages before the first wave of Code 60 caution periods split the frontrunners’ respective pit stop strategies. Opting to stop early, MS7 by WRT briefly dropped to the tail of the overall top 20, but was already back into the lead again by the fifth hour.
Though hounded for the remainder of the race by the sister WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo (#31, Benjamin Goethe / Arnold Robin / Maxime Robin / Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer / Frédéric Vervisch), MS7 by WRT was able to hold its advantage and take an historic win.
Alongside the latest wins for WRT and Audi, and the first for a team running the Saudi Arabian flag, 2022 also marks the first overall Hankook 24H DUBAI win since 2018 for a driver hailing from Saudi Arabia – Mohammed Saud Fahad Al Saud – and the second in succession for Zimbabwe’s Axcil Jefferies.
Christopher Mies took the #7 Audi R8 LMS across the line to complete 596 laps of the 5.39km Dubai Autodrome. Of those, WRT’s R8s led all but 85 of them.
“We had a fantastic car all week,” Mies explained to radiolemans.com’s Joe Bradley. “We had a bit of luck, but also the strategy was on point, so thanks to the whole crew for that! I’m really proud of everyone: drivers, mechanics, engineers, everyone involved. Thank you very much!”
Following its early battle with MS7 by WRT, Abu Dhabi Racing by HRT, last year’s GT3-AM winner, finished a miniscule 7.697 seconds behind the SunEnergy1 by SPS automotive performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#75, Kenny Habul / Mikaël Grenier / Maro Engel / Jules Gounon) in a grandstand finish for the final outright podium spot.
A fighting drive saw the Al Manar Racing by HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#777, Al Faisal Al Zubair / Indy Dontje / Luca Stolz / Martin Konrad) finish 5th, having at one stage run as high as 3rd. The result means Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Oman are all represented in the overall top five.
Despite losing its lead #91 entry to a heavy accident in practice on Wednesday afternoon, former event winner Herberth Motorsport secured 6th overall with its sister #92 Porsche 911 GT3 R (Stephen Grove / Brenton Grove / Anton De Pasquale / Sven Müller) just ahead of the Attempto Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 (#99, Florian Scholze / Luca Engstler / Alex Arkin Aka / Nicolas Schöll / Finlay Hutchison). Incredibly, the latter finished just 1.5s clear of the Mercedes-AMG of GT3-AM winner CP Racing (#85, Charles Putman / Charles Espenlaub / Philip Quaife / Shane Lewis) after a full day of competitive racing.
The SPS automotive performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#20, Valentin Pierburg / George Kurtz / John Loggie / Reema Juffali), for which Saudi Arabia’s first female racing driver Reema Juffali competed in her maiden GT3 and endurance race, finished 9th overall and 2nd in the GT3-AM class. The MP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#19, Henk de Jong / Daniel de Jong / Bert de Heus / Jaap van Lagen) meanwhile rounds out the overall top 10 and secures GT3-PRO/AM victory.
Impressively, the top three in GT3-PRO/AM – MP Motorsport, the Team Joos Sportwagentechnik Porsche 911 GT3 R (#27, Jannes Fittje / Michael Joos / Friedel Bleifuss / Steffen Görig) and the DUWO Racing by Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R (#93, Andrey Mukovoz / Stanislav Sidoruk / Sergey Peregudov / Dylan Pereira) – finished 10th, 11th and 12th overall, covered by just 2.5 minutes.
Behind the trio on the road, and despite losing time with suspected suspension problems earlier in the race, the Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 (#34, Johannes Dr. Kirchhoff / Gustav Edelhof / Elmar Grimm / Ingo Vogler / Max Edelhoff) secured the final podium spot in GT3-AM, a fitting sign-off for 24H SERIES staple Gustav Edelhoff in his last 24-hour race.
Team GP-Elite secured a commanding 1-2 in the brand-new 992-PRO category, its #934 latest generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Lucas Groeneveld / Jesse van Kuijk / Daan van Kuijk / Max van Splunteren) finishing ahead of the sister #933 entry (Larry ten Voorde / Thierry Vermeulen / Roger Hodenius / Steven van Rhee). A contender for victory throughout the event, Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#909, Ivo Breukers / Julius Adomavičius / Morris Schuring / Jeroen Bleekemolen) took the final spot on the class podium.
One place further back on the road, the HRT Performance (#929, Henric Skoog / Patrik Skoog / Emil Persson / Gustav Bergström) secured 992-AM class victory ahead of Red Ant Racing (#904, Philippe Wils / Kurt Hensen / Luc Vanderfeesten / Tom Boonen), while the Swedish team’s #928 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Erik Behrens / Hans Holmlund / Tommy Gråberg / Daniel Ros) collected 3rd in-class. Sandwiched between the pair, the United Arab Emirates’ RABDAN Motorsport by ID Racing (#977, Saif Alameri / Fahad Alzaabi / Helal Almazrouei / Salem Alketbi / Saeed Almheir) came close to finishing on the 992-PRO podium in the Emirati team’s first Hankook 24H DUBAI.
Such was the pace of the 992 runners, both category winners finished ahead of GTX class winner PK Carsport (#704, Peter Guelinckx / Bert Longin / Stienes Longin / Stijn Lowette) on the first 24H SERIES outing for a GT2-spec Audi R8 LMS. Further back, and despite “a few niggles”, multi-time Hankook 24H DUBAI class winner Leipert Motorsport finished 2nd in-class with its Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (#710, Gerhard Watzinger / Gregg Gorski / Erik Davis / Alban Varutti / Fidel Leib) ahead of the similarly troubled Vortex V8 (#701, Lionel Amrouche / Philippe Bonnel / Philippe Gruau / Sebastien Lajoux).
What had looked to be a certain podium finish for razoon-more than racing (#714, Andreas Höfler / Robert Schiftner / Daniel Drexel / Kevin Raith / Dominik Olbert) ended abruptly when the KTM X-BOW GTX made contact with the DINAMIC MOTORSPORT Porsche 991 GT3 R (#67, Roberto Pampanini / Mauro Calamia / Stefano Monaco / Matteo Cairoli) during the night, ending both races.
NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#991, Gijs Bessem / Harry Hilders / Bob Herber / Daan Meijer) took its second consecutive 991 class win at the Hankook 24H DUBAI. Despite a puncture in the closing stages and a mechanical malady during the night, Willi Motorsport by Ebimotors (#955, Fabrizio Broggi / Sergiu Nicolae / Sabino de Castro) recovered to secure 2nd in-class ahead of Red Ant Racing (#903, Ayrton Redant / Pieter Ooms / Glenn van Parijs / Yannick Redant).
Dubai’s Dragon Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 (#408, Roald Goethe / Oliver Goethe / Stuart Hall / Jordan Grogor) secured its second class win in three years at its home race with the Mercedes-AMG GT4, albeit in a close-fought effort with the Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 (#423, Gray Newell / Ian James / Roman De Angelis / Alex Riberas). The returning RHC Jorgensen-Strom by Century BMW M4 GT4 (#450, Daren Jorgensen / Brett Strom / Danny van Dongen / Nathan Freke) rounds out the GT4 podium.