In the 12th edition of the event, drivers Daniel Allemann, Ralf Bohn, Robert Renauer, Alfred Renauer and Brendon Hartley racked up a total of 578 laps of the 5.399 kilometres long Dubai Autodrome.
For Porsche, it was the fifth victory in the Hankook 24H Dubai after earlier wins in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2014.
This time, it was even a 1-2 for the German manufacturer as the Manthey Racing Porsche finished second, two laps down on the winning entry.
A three times’ Dubai race winner, the Black Falcon team saw its Mercedes-AMG GT3 finish third and the team posted the fastest lap of the race.
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An expanded 12th edition of the event is expected to see a record high of 100 cars across 13 classes take
to Dubai Autodrome from 14:00 on Friday. This packed field will contain vehicles which operate at different performance levels with both amateur and professional drivers behind the wheel, raising the possibility of an action packed start to the opening round of the 2017 24H Endurance Series.
Team Abu Dhabi Racing Black Falcon competitor Al Qubaisi’s last two attempts have ended with crashes, in contrast to his consecutive wins during 2012 and 2013. At the wheel of his new Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the A6-Pro category, he spoke confidently of having the pace to make it a hat-trick as long as his four-man team manages to survive the hazardous conditions.
“I am feeling very good,” said Al Qubaisi, who won both the Mexico and Bahrain events with Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing during the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship. “We have been waiting a long time for this.
“It is my home race, it is a great race – one of the best events here alongside Formula One (the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix).
“It has been in the works for the last three years (to win again). But we have always had bad luck.
“We have always been the fastest and the team to beat. But incidents, trouble and accidents didn’t let us.
“That is an important thing here at Dubai 24H. We really need to take care and stay out of trouble as much as possible.
“In 2015, I crashed out. In 2016, Jeroen [Bleekemolen] crashed out.
“I gave myself a beating for crashing out and Jeroen is one of the top GT drivers, so it shows this is a very tough race to stay out of trouble.
“It is my sixth year racing with Black Falcon. We have a very good relationship with them and Mercedes, great support and great team.
“We always have the fastest car, but it is a matter of surviving.”
Joining Al Qubaisi in the sister Black Falcon car is Saudi Arabia’s Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Saud. The 33-year-old competitor has also tasted success at Motor City, storming to victory two years ago.
They will take the fight to holders Belgian Audi Club WRT, who have retained just Englishman Stuart Leonard from 2016’s roster.
The Middle Easterners will be driving an updated model of the AMG GT3, which was unveiled this week. Prince Abdulaziz was convinced the teething issues of the prior vehicle have been eliminated.
“I am glad we are here again for my 11th year,” said the Red Bull-sponsored athlete. “Hopefully, it ends in a good place and good position.
“They ask me after I won it [in 2015] what will I do? I replied: ‘I’ll keep coming.’
“For me, I enjoy racing and love it. Winning doesn’t mean I have to stop. The car feels really good. We had a test here last weekend, trying some parts and set-ups.
“We were bedding in the driveshafts and the front brakes. You cannot really push until after 10 laps.
“The traffic will be chaotic, but you get used to it.”
The opening running in 2006 of Dubai 24H was a privateers’ racing event, contained no Arab drivers or teams and was restricted to 67 entrants. The field has now ballooned to a maximum of 100, with lustre added by being given full FIA-approved international endurance series status.
“I don’t call it a race, I call it a phenomenon,” said Mohammed bin Sulayem, president of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE and FIA vice president. “I saw this event when it was tiny.
It was double joy for the 16-year-old Daman Speed Academy driver as she had secured second place in Round 6 the previous day at the same circuit, and in the process slashed the gap to her class leader.
It was an unforgettable weekend for Amna, who on Friday won Senior Max class Pre-Final and then was placed second in the Final, picking up valuable points.
On Saturday, she was placed fourth in Round 7 Pre-Final, but the Abu Dhabi schoolgirl was determined to win the race.
Amna opened her final campaign for the weekend in fourth place and soon displayed her pace and skill, gradually moving up over the 14-lap race. Nearing the end, she put pedal to metal and surged ahead into the lead to secure a well-deserved first victory of her career in the Senior Max class.
A delighted Amna said: “The feeling of winning my first race was absolutely astounding. I had never imagined to one day win a race competing against really very experienced drivers and champions.
“But today I stepped up my game and finally made it after three years of hard work, which have paid great dividends in the end.
“I had actually promised myself yesterday that I would win today, and I did. I am so happy.”
DSA Founder and Abu Dhabi Racing Managing Director, Khaled Al Qubaisi said: “An amazing performance from Amna all weekend. She was the fastest and managed to convert her excellent pace today to a big win at Round 7 in Muscat.
“This is an amazing breakthrough as it is her first win in this tough class and I am looking forward to more such performances in the future.”
Amna now has trimmed the gap against her class leader significantly, and with six more rounds to go the possibility of taking charge of the Senior class championship is now very real.
Meanwhile, the other DSA drivers – Hamda Al Qubaisi (Junior Max) and Ali Al Shamsi (Mini Max) – had a mixed weekend.
Al Shamsi was inside the top-10 in Round 6 Final, but in Round 7, he incurred a 10sec penalty for a tramline infringement and then spun out on two occasions. As a result, he was unable to finish the race.
Team-mate Hamda too had a top-10 finish in Round 6 but was unable to replicate that performance in Round 7.
Rounds 8 and 9 will be held at the Al Ain Raceway from February 3-4.