The Hankook 24H Dubai has ended with the Black Falcon 2 team victorious. Congratulations go to Abdulaziz Al Faisal, Hubert Haupt, Yelmer Buurman and Briton Oliver Webb but there were eight cars in Dubai familiar to followers of the Avon Tyres British GT Championship or MSA British Dunlop Endurance Championship.
At the top of the list comes the KPM run Strata 21 Aston Martin V12 Vantage. The car which claimed the 2013 Britcar title and raced a season in the British GT Championship carried factory drivers Stefan Mucke and Jonny Adam to third place in A6-Pro. Only an errant A6-Am car from Dragon Racing kept the Strata 21 car, and Strata 21 owner Paul White from the overall podium.
“We’re really pleased to have been on the PRO class podium,” Stefan Mücke, the Aston Martin veteran of two different world championships said. “The car has felt great all week and the team did a really good job with set-up to get it spot on. If we had not had to pit an extra time for damage due to contact, I think we may have finished higher but, in a race with 95 cars on track, these things happen.”
Aston’s British GT pro, Jonny Adam added, “To stand on the Dubai 24 Hours podium is something I’m very proud of. I’ve driven the Vantage GT3 since the end of 2011 and I’ve been a part of a lot of its firsts – including its first race win back in 2012 and its first championship win back in 2013 – so any I take any opportunity I can to add to its growing tally of successes.
“When we first drove the car on Wednesday, Stefan, Paul and I were very pleased with it but, after some pre-qualifying tweaks from the guys at KPM Racing, who did a great job all week, we were extremely happy.”
The British GT machine didn’t claim the title of top Brits though. That fell to RAM Racing, the Silverstone based European Le Mans Series team and Adam Christodoulou, partnered by Cheerag Arya, Thomas Jaeger and former BTCC ace Tom Onslow-Cole.
The all-Jones entry from Preci-Spark took sixth place in A6-Pro, opting to run their Blancpain Endurance Series Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 rather than the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 which is their usual British GT weapon. Brit GT protagonists David and Godfrey Jones were joined by Philip, Gareth and Morgan for the 24 Hour bash in the Middle East and turned in 536 laps to the winners 577 but fell behind a flock of 997 class runners, placing 16th overall.
In A6-Am the Brits also nabbed second place in the form of Nissan GT Academy Team RJN. The UK built and run Nissan GTR Nismo GT3 took fifth place at the hands of the 2014 batch of Academy winners. Ahmed Bin Khanen was the local hero in the car with Florian Strauss lending a hand. Ricardo Sanchez, Nick Hammann and Gaetan Paletou shared the driving to get the car to the finish ahead of Atempto Racing’s Porsche and a very confusing Lamborghini.
The Lamborghini Gallardo LP860 GT3 is a very nice but very under-used GT3 car. The team running the car, Gulf Racing UK, suggests a McLaren rather than a Lamborghini and the driver line up, Roald Goethe, Stuart Hall, Jamie Campbell-Walter and Frederic Fatien, screams Aston Martin. However strange this combination of Italian supercar and British racing prowess, the result was a very impressive fourth in class, eighth in the overall standings.
Sixth in A6-Am but also stuck behind a clutch of 997 class Porsches came the Avon Tyres British GT Championship runners-up for 2014. Triple Eight Race Engineering, with Brit GT drivers Lee Mowle, Joe Osborne, Charlie Hollings and Jacques Duyver finished only 29.768 seconds clear of the most successful of the British hopes at Dubai.
SP3, the International Endurance Series’ version of GT4 was where the Brits excelled. An eight car class contained seven British cars, five of them Ginettas. The podium was dominated by British teams, British talent and Yorkshire engineering.
British GT vice-Champions Optimum Motorsport took the class victory with their Ginetta G55 GT4 after claiming the pole. Euan Hankey made a rare appearance without a Porsche to head the driver line up with also contained Bradley Ellis and Adrian Barwick along with the sole SP3 Podium visitor not to hold an MSA issued license, the Turk racer Salih Yoluc.
Second in the class went to the Speedworks Motorsport Ginetta which occasionally pops up at Britcar race meetings. Anthony Hughes and Ross Warburton were joined by Tom Oliphant and Ollie Jackson for the 24 Hours in a G50, dressed in the usual Speedworks white, red and blue. How very patriotic. The Speedworks surprise came in the form of the white and blue Aston Martin Vantage GT4, one of two Astons in the class, driven by John Gilbert, Flick Haigh, Paul O’Neill and Devon Modell.
Bringing up the rear on notable British Entries to the Hankook 24 Hours Dubai is APO Sport who traded their GT4 Porsche from British GT for something a little smaller. The Renault Clio Cup of Alex Osborne, James May, Peter Venn and Hungarian Tim Gabor battled in a 19 strong class to a respectable seventh place finish. The class was packed with Clios, along with a handful of Hondas, MINIs, Peugeots and a single GT86. APO Sport finished fourth in the list of Renaults behind two new Clio Cup racers and a last generation car specifically built for endurance racing. Not a bad effort.
Attention now turns to the next major 24 hour race on the calendar, the Tudor United Sportscar Championship’s curtain raiser at Daytona, the Rolex 24. TheCheckeredFlag.co.uk will provide full coverage of all the GT and Prototype action from Florida. We then turn our attention back to many of the cars listed here as the Dunlop 24 Hours at Silverstone looms into view in April.