DUBAI // Swiss outfit Stadler Motorsport won the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai on Saturday afternoon after Khaled Al Qubaisi’s hopes of a historic treble fizzled out when his Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcons’ Mercedes suffered electrical issues in the middle of the night.
Stadler’s Porsche, driven by Christian Engelhart, took the chequered flag after 603 laps, three more than Germany’s All-inkl.com Munnich Motorsport, who finished in second. Jeroen Bleekemolen, driving the Black Falcon 2, was next over the line to ensure Al Qubaisi appeared on the podium for the third time in three seasons, albeit two steps lower than in previous years.
The reigning champions had started from second on the grid and snatched the the lead from pole-sitters V8 Racing during the opening few laps.
However, they were unable to immediately build a sizable gap as the Corvette maintained the high level of performance that helped Nicky Pastorelli finish fastest in qualifying the previous day.
The Black Falcons and V8 tossed around the lead like a hot suspension spring for much of the first hour as a battle of attrition played out further down the field. Yet after a little more than 10 hours, the Black Falcons’ lead car suffered a technical problem and was forced to pit. When it returned to the track, with Andreas Simonsen at the wheel, he joined the field in 26th position.
Credit to the UAE-capital-based team that they were able to climb back through the field to claim a podium, but the result is a disappointment for Al Qubaisi who had entered the weekend confident of securing a third successive win.
The race almost ended prematurely for the Emirati when he lost control of the car and hit the pit wall late in proceedings, but a nine minute advantage over fourth place GT Corse allowed him to nurse the car home.
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