Reigning Michelin Ginetta GT4 Supercup champion Tom Oliphant and Century Motorsport tasted class victory in the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai this past weekend, with Supercup outfits filling four of the top seven places in the SP3 class.
Oliphant shared the victorious #229 Ginetta G55 GT4 with Century team boss Nathan Freke, a Supercup title contender himself in 2011, Anna Walewska and Aleksander Schjerpen, the team tasting success in their first ever round the clock race.
Fellow Supercup outfit Optimum Motorsport led the SP3 (GT4) class at various points during the race and held a healthy lead as the sun rose on Saturday morning, until an alternator failure gave the advantage to the Century outfit – who themselves had to overcome a fuel tank issue and premature brake pad failure.
“I’m delighted with taking the win in our first 24 Hour attempt,” said Freke. “The car just ran faultlessly for the race and during the evening we had to really drive it hard to make time up, so it didn’t have an easy life! I’m so proud of everyone involved in this. It’s been a dream come true.”
Oliphant added: “It’s been a roller coaster of a race, really tough on everyone. We had our fair share of problems, and words can’t describe the ups and downs, but we pulled through and won the 2016 Dubai 24H!”
The troubles for Optimum led to a substantial delay, from which they couldn’t fully recover and they crossed the line fourth in class, with Supercup AM class race-winner Ade Barwick behind the wheel alongside Bradley Ellis, Daniel O’Brien and Elliott Norris.
Another Supercup squad in CWS Racing rose to complete a Ginetta one-two at the head of the class, with reigning Supercup AM Class champion Colin White leading their charge alongside three other former Supercup racers, 2013 front-runner Matt Nicoll-Jones, Hunter Abbott and Steve Fresle.
Italian squad Nova Race completed the class top six in their Ginetta ahead of Century’s second G55 campaigned by 2015 Supercup podium finisher Ollie Jackson, Jake Rattenbury, David Pattison and Ruben Anakhasyan, who were hampered by crash damage during the night.
Optimum Motorsport also fielded an Audi R8 LMS GT3 meanwhile for Flick Haigh, Ryan Ratcliffe, Joe Osborne and Frank Stippler, which they superbly took to fifth overall and fourth in the headline A6-Pro class.
“I believe we had the pace and the ability to achieve much more in both the A6-Pro and SP3 categories in Dubai, because the team performed remarkably throughout and the drivers were sensational,” said Optimum Team Principal Shaun Goff.
“24-hour races are unpredictable though. You need luck to be on your side and we suffered some misfortune. Nevertheless, everybody pulled together and fought back to achieve incredible results that bode very well for the forthcoming season.”