43 cars started the Hankook 6 Hours of Abu Dhabi this Sunday, 36 of them made it to the chequered flag. The competitors offered some great battles on the track, and the numerous “Code 60” flags (similar to Virtual Safety Car) came out because of crashes and a last 40 minutes one due to fuel system failure.
The #21 AUDI R8 LMS GT3 Evo finished 8th overall and 4th in the AM classification, while the #92 Mercedes AMG GT3 Evo was forced to retire during the first stint of Edoardo BACCI, because of an engine oil leak after only 20 laps of the Yas Marina Circuit.
AUDI #21 started on pole position after a well-managed qualifying session by Thomas, Torsten and Mathieu yesterday. Poleman Mathieu DETRY started the race at the side of future winner #96 Porsche GT3 Evo. The Porsche was rapidly passed by #86 Ferrari 488 GT3 in the first lap, but Mathieu managed to content the Italians for most of the first half-hour.
Edoardo BACCI started 16th at the wheel of #92 Mercedes AMG and could catch up with P9 before he was hindered to come in because of a mechanical problem. The retirement was announced later on, as the HAAS mechanics were unable to promptly fix the too important engine oil leak.
After one hour and twenty minutes, Belgian driver Mathieu DETRY (semi-pro) passed on the #21 Audi to his co-driver Stanislav MINSKY, giving up the car in 7th position overall. Minski took over for about one hour before he gave the wheel to Torsten KRATZ after lap 62. Tosten made it back to top 10 position during his stint, even though he was the most penalized driver of the team with the countless “Code 60” flags deployed by race director because of #223 Lamera TCX crash (25mn), followed by another crash from #710 Lamborghini GTX after 80 laps (22mn) and the one of the #714 KTM GTX (5m), all of course deployed for drivers- and team- safety sake, to allow track marshals to work on rail guards and to clean the track. During his 1:48-hour stint, the German driver drove under 60 km/h for over 50mn.
As the race start had been given four hours before, Thomas KRATZ took over at the wheel of #21 AUDI R8, lap 103. He started his stint 9th overall and 3rd in the AM category, and he too had to deal with “Code 60” flags because of competitors stopped on the track or having had an accident.
As the contenders entered the last hour of the race, a new “Code 60” came out, this time because of a technical failure appeared in the refuelling system, hindering anyone to refuel at all. As the green came out, only 15 minutes to the race finish, the competitors started a sprint race to catch class victories. Thomas was too far away to battle for the AM class win, but saw the chequered flag in the top 10, but only 4th in the class. A result that does not please the team, but a race that will definitely have helped to prepare for the coming 24 Hours of Dubai next week.
Kris DEDONCKER Team manager HAAS RT : « Our very first goal is always to finish the race and in endurance racing, it’s not always obvious. We had a good start with a nice qualifying yesterday and a pole sitting start, standing even before a Pro/Am team. But of course we all know that qualification is not the race. Our drivers managed well through the “Code 60” flags, and we had a lot of them today. It’s not really fun to drive at 60kph, but of course we know this is made for the driver- and team- safety.
Our Audi did well and so did our drivers, mostly Thomas and Torsten, who did not know the car a few days ago. In the end, this 6-hour race was a great preparation for the Dubai 24 Hours next week.
As for the Mercedes AMG GT3 Evo #92, unfortunately, we could not repair the catch tank for the engine fuel which involved oil leak.»