Dubai 24 Hours: Porsche, led by Herberth Motorsport, top podium for first time since 2014
DUBAI // A faultless driving performance from the Herberth Motorsport quintet put Porsche back on the top of the podium in the 24H Dubai on Saturday, but there was disappointment for Abu Dhabi Racing Black Falcon as a crash with another car ended their hopes.
Starting from third on the grid, the Herberth Motorsport’s driving squad of Daniel Allemann, Ralf Bohn, Robert Renauer, Alfred Renauer and Brendon Hartley — exchanging leading at various points in the opening hours — pulled ahead of the Manthey Racing’s Porsche 991 GT3 R during the early hours of Saturday morning and they retained that advantage, taking the chequered flag at 2pm with a two-lap gap between the Porsche 991 GT3 R.
The Black Falcon’s No 3 Mercedes AMG GT3 came in a further lap behind in third, while Optimum Motorsport and Imsa Performance crossed the line in fourth and fifth.
This was Porsche’s first win here since their 2014 triumph, when Stadler Motorsport (Porsche 997 GT3-R) finished at the top of the podium, and the joy was evident in the team garage.
“That was awesome experience for me,” said New Zealander Hartley. “First time in a GT car for me, first time in a 911, first time winning a 24.
“The teammates were great, true professionals. All the teammates pulled together and very happy to be a part of this team. Really enjoyed it and hopefully that form continues!”
Hofor Racing’s No 1 Mercedes AMG GT3 took the top honours in the A6-AM class and Michael Kroll, who shared driving duties with Chantal Kroll, Roland Eggimann, Kenneth Heyer and Christiaan Frankenhout, was elated.
“This was our first race with the new car, and we won in the amateur class and finished seventh overall — what more can you ask for,” he said.
Earlier in the race, the No 2 Mercedes AMG GT3 of the Abu Dhabi Racing Black Falcon was in second, behind Herberth Motorsport, when the car, with Khaled Al Qubaisi at the wheel, spun off the tracks while lapping a slower car just before the 17-hour mark.
As he returned to the tracks, the Black Falcon collided with the No 963 Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracan of Mirko Bortolloti, forcing both out of the race — the AMG GT3 with a damaged front-right suspension and a failed steering.
“Real bad luck for us,” said Al Qubaisi, the 2012 and 2013 winner who was sharing driving duties with Jeroen Bleekemolen, Patrick Assenheimer and Manuel Metzger.
“We had great pace right through the weekend, until the incident. The entire team has a done a fantastic job, so it really is a shame that our campaign had to end in this fashion.”
Al Qubaisi, meanwhile, has said he will be making a lot fewer appearances on the track in 2017 due to his business and family commitments, and try spend more time with his two daughters, Amna and Hamda, who have been doing well on the karting circuit.
“We have not finalised the racing plan,” he said. “I am quite busy with a lot of things — with the academy [Daman Speed Academy], which is doing very well.
“The kids are also doing very well. Amna just won a race in Oman and I am very proud of them. So I might focus on them a little bit more this coming year.”
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