Touring Car stars kicked their 2014 racing season off in style at the ninth running of the Dunlop Dubai 24 Hours.
A bumper 77-car entry included a number of top-line teams with top level drivers from around the world, including 2012 World Touring Car Champion Rob Huff with Munnich Motorsport and British Touring Car Championship race-winner Tom Onslow-Cole in a KPM Racing Mk VI Volkswagen Golf TDI.
Huff shared his Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 machine with Rene Munnich and Marc Basseng, starting the race from 12th on the grid. A strong strategy and some lightning driving from the trio meant they quickly found themselves moving up the leaderboard. Penalties, however, would deny them from victory, having to spend just under 9 minutes in the penalty box for various infringements. After around 600 laps of racing, the Mercedes-Benz finished in second position.
“I’m so grateful to ALL-INKL.COM Munnich Motorsport for everything it has done since the very beginning of our relationship and I’d like to congratulate my two great teammates, Rene and Marc, on an incredible result,” said Huff, who completed almost ten hours behind the wheel during the race. “This really is the perfect way to end a year’s association and sharing the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 – which ran faultlessly throughout – with such gentlemen was an honour. They both proved that they’re quality drivers. It’s great to achieve such a positive result as a team. It was a fantastic feeling to win for Munnich Motorsport in the WTCC and this podium in Dubai proves beyond doubt that my endurance racing capabilities are equal to my touring car capabilities. I look forward to more opportunities and success in endurance racing in the future.”
Meanwhile, in the D1 Class for diesel touring cars up to 2000cc, Tom Onslow-Cole competed alongside Volkswagen Racing Cup drivers Aaron Mason (2013 Champion) and Josh Caygill and experienced sports car drivers Paul White and Javier Morcillo.
Starting second in class, the team took the lead after three hours of racing before battling back to the top spot ten hours later, having lost it through a time penalty. Contact with another competitor and a front-end rebuild to fix a failed upright lost the team further time, rejoining the race in fourth.
A strong recovery drive saw the Golf back in second in class, surviving a late gearbox issue to finish on the second step of the D1 podium.
“We were running issue-free in the opening hours on Friday until Aaron had contact from a faster car and we had to pit with quite some damage,” said KPM Racing boss, Kevin Poole. “Unfortunately, we didn’t know the extent until we sent the car back out with Tom and it was completely undriveable, so we decided to cut our losses and replace the entire front end. This would obviously cost us time, but would hopefully give us a good run mechanically until the end. The gearbox then failed with one hour to go and the team did an extraordinary job to change it in just 25 minutes. Our aim was then to preserve our second place to the end of the race, knowing that the win was out of our grasp. I would like to thank all the guys in the team, Milltek Sport, everyone who has supported us for our first 24 hour endurance event and our drivers. It has been exhausting but fantastic, and a very encouraging start to KPM Racing’s 2014 season.”