Belgian Audi Club Team WRT has won the season-opening Dubai 24 Hours for the first time, taking the chequered flag by a margin of five laps.
Laurens Vanthoor brought the winning Audi R8 LMS to the finish, sharing the victory with Michael Meadows, Stuart Leonard and Alain Ferte. It was the first win for Audi at the 24 Hours of Dubai, ending years of Porsche and Mercedes dominance.
The WRT car battled with the Land Motorsport Audi for much of the race, only moving clear when the Land machine ran out of fuel during the night.
The chasing Audi did recover in the hands of Connor de Phillippi and was back in second during the morning, but a gearbox failure with two hours to go cost the team of a podium.
Black Falcon picked up the pieces to finish second, although it was the older Mercedes SLS GT3 chassis that achieved it after the newer Mercedes AMG GT3s hit trouble early on.
Abdulaziz Al Faisal, Frank Montecalvo, Oliver Webb and Oliver Morley were quick, but unable to match the outright speed advantage possessed by the Audi. The older chassis had to be called upon after the quartet’s AMG GT3 was engulfed in flames during practice earlier in the week.
Third place went to the C.Abt Racing Audi R8 driven by Andreas Weishaupt, Mathias Henkola, Daniel Abt, Christer Jons and Isaac Tutumlu, which finished eight laps down on the leader.
The best placed A6 Am car finished fourth overall, with Michael Kroll bringing home the Hofor Racing Mercedes SLS GT3 that he shared with Kenneth Heyer, Roland Eggimann, Christian Frankenhout and Chantal Kroll.
One of the main contenders during the night, the Scuderia Praha Ferrari 458 GT3 exited the race when Matteo Cressoni came into contact with a slower Ginetta. The then-leading Ferrari retired on the spot, and the team was later given a suspension from the 12 Hours of Mugello, the next round of the 24H Series.
Konrad Motorsport was also a key player throughout the race, but its Lamborghini Huracan GT3 was cruelly hit by an engine issue in the final 30 minutes. The car was still classified 10th but after such a strong run it was a disappointing end to the Huracan’s first appearance at the 24 Hours of Dubai.
24 Hours of Dubai Class Winners
A6 Pro and Overall: #19 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT (Audi R8 LMS) – 588 laps
A6 Am: #10 Hofor Racing (Mercedes SLS GT3) – 578 laps
991: #40 Lechner Racing Middle East (Porsche 911 Cup) – 568 laps
SP2: #64 Porsche Lorient Racing (Porsche 997 Cup S) – 553 laps
SP3: #229 Century Motorsport (Ginetta G55 GT4) – 536 laps
TCR: #1 Memac Ogilvy Duel Racing (Seat Leon Cup Racer) – 524 laps
A3: #208 Team Altran Peugeot (Peugeot 208 GTi) – 521 laps
A2: #165 Besaplast Racing (Mini Cooper S JCW) – 509 laps
CUP 1: #148 QSR (BMW 235i Racing Cup) – 505 laps