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The Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 has won the 2018 Hankook 24H DUBAI, the 13th running of the annual event that, at one point, had looked likely to be won by the sister #3 entry.
Abdulaziz Al Faisal drove the #2 Mercedes-AMG across the finish line after completing 606 laps of the 5 km Dubai Autodrome. The result continues the event’s domination by German manufacturers and cements Buurman, Haupt and Al Faisal as dual winners of the Hankook 24H DUBAI following their first victory together in 2015 with Black Falcon.
“I can’t express how happy I am!” explained Al Faisal. “My thanks to my team and my teammates, it’s been an amazing job from everyone. I’ve done this for 11 years now, and finally I’ve won it for a second time. It was a bit harder this year, the competition has grown, but I’m really happy to be here!”
The overall 24H GT and A6-Pro leaders finished just two laps ahead of the #12 Manthey Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R, which replicated the runners-up spot it achieved at the same event 12 months earlier.
Incredibly, the #964 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 finished just five seconds further back, completing the overall top three and A6-Pro podium in the process. The Lamborghini had qualified on the 24H GT pole position, but would fall to the back of the pack in the opening stages thanks to three successive punctures.
The #16 SPS automotive performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 was the fastest A6-Am runner in 4th place overall, finishing just one lap ahead of the #18 V8 Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6-ZR1.
The #25 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 had led the class until its fuel cap worked itself loose, coinciding with gearbox problems, but recovered to complete the A6-Am podium.
Reigning Champions of the Continents #911 Herberth Motorsport could do no better than 4th in-class thanks to power steering failure at an event the #911 Porsche 991 GT3 R won outright last year with Formula 1 Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley at the wheel.
In the newly segregated 991-Pro class, the #62 FACH AUTO TECH Porsche 991-II Cup took class victory ahead of category polesitters #63 race:pro motorsport and #82 Porsche 991-I Cup. The second race:pro motorsport entry fared better in 911-Am, taking category honours ahead of the #67 MRS GT-Racing Porsche 991-II Cup.
Former 24H SERIES champions #95 Duel Racing completed the 911-Am podium, two laps further adrift. After several years away from the 24H SERIES, #37 Tsunami R.T. made a successful return to the series with its Porsche 991 Cup MR II, pulling a 21-lap gap over the #89 MRS GT-Racing Porsche 991-II in the process to take SPX category honours.
Further back, the category pole sitting #10 Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo secured the final spot on the category podium, just ahead of last year’s class winner’s GDL Racing Team Middle East.
The #58 VDS Racing Adventures MARC Focus V8 got its SP2 title defence off to a good start with class victory ahead of the #201 CCS Racing KTM X-BOW and the #78 Speed Lover Porsche 991-I, while the only other KTM X-BOW in the field – that of KTM MMotorsport Australia – suffered mechanical woes that ultimately dropped the #246 X-BOW to 5th in-class in-sight of the chequered flag.
Phoenix Racing meanwhile secured a provisional GT4 1-2 finish with its pair of brand new Audi R8 LMS GTs, a strong result on the category’s 24H SERIES debut. The #248 entry finished ahead of the #247 R8 LMS GT with both pulling away from #264 Black Falcon Team TMD Friction Mercedes-AMG GT R SP-X throughout the night.
The first ever endurance race for the McLaren 570S GT4 would come to an early end when the #241 ALFAB Racing entry would retire with turbocharger failure. The most high profile retirements of the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook season opener, however, involved a collision between the #3 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 and the #1 Mercedes of reigning Teams’ and A6 champions Hofor-Racing. The Black Falcon Mercedes had led 198 laps until that point and looked set for victory but a collision under braking meant both would retire on the spot.