Seventy-five percent of the Toyo Tires 24 Hours of Dubai have been completed and at the front ARC Bratislava and Al Faisal Racing changed places several times during the night. Lots of teams, drivers and media used the ‘quiet’ hours to get some sleep. Here is what they missed.
The thirteenth hour started with the Land Motorsport 2 Porsche making its pit stop, taking away the pressure on the ARC Bratislava car. Right before entering the pit the gap between the two cars was less than 8 seconds. The Al Faisal Racing 1 BMW took advantage and got back into second place, before going into the pit itself at 2:15 AM.
At 2:35 there was another ‘Code 60′ when the Team First Renault Clio came to a halt on the middle of the track. The car was towed away from the track to the pit lane where the mechanics rushed to the car to try and find out what went wrong.
Brake problems meant the ARC Bratislava Porsche was unable to set quick lap times and it also meant the Al Faisal Racing 1 BMW kept closing in as soon as the green flags were shown again. The gap quickly narrowed down from 21 seconds to just under 10 seconds in the two laps immediately after the ‘Code 60′. After exactly 13 hours of racing the Al Faisal Racing car was only 4 seconds behind the Slovakian Porsche.
Five minutes later the BMW was all over the Porsche after completing its 296th lap the BMW Z4 M Coupé was back in the lead of the race, with the ARC Bratislava Porsche eight tenths of a second behind. At that point the BMW had made 9 pit stops in a total time of 1 hour, while the Porsche had done one extra stop, but had only stopped for 40 minutes.
The two cars stayed together for a couple of laps, with the ARC Bratislava team setting its fastest lap of the race so far in lap 298. But the next lap the gap suddenly increased from .7s to 3.3s and after that the gap steadily increased.
After both ARC Bratislava and Al Faisal Racing 1 had made their pit stops the Slovakian Porsche was back in the lead again, even though the BMW had been leading for more than one hour. In the middle of the night several teams that had brought their cars into the pit for repairs managed to fix it and some cars returned after hours of hard work.
Shortly after 5:00AM the Al Faisal Racing BMW had caught the ARC Bratislava car again and quickly passed it. In a matter of laps the gap between the two cars went from zero to 11 second and when the Porsche made its pit stop at around 5:30 it dropped back to a (temporary) third place behind the Land Motorsport 2 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup, before this car also went in for a stop.
Towards the end of the sixteenth hour the race leader came in for refuelling allowing the cars behind to take back some time. As the BMW came out of the pit again it was however still in the lead, the gap just over a minute.
After sixteen hours of racing the top 6 was: Al Faisal Racing 1 – ARC Bratislava – Land Motorsport 2 – Hubert Bergh Motorsport – Besaplast Racing Team – Jetalliance Racing.
A rather uneventful hour saw the Al Faisal Racing 1 car gaining more and more ground on the ARC Bratislava car. When the BMW had completed its 397th lap around the 5.39 km circuit it had passed the Porsche and had effectively overtaken the entire field at least once. The top six still had the same cars in it, although the Hubert Bergh Motorsport had dropped to sixth place.
As daylight returned to Dubai there was a ‘Code 60′ at 7:30 in the morning when an Endurance Club Hungary Ford Fiesta smashed into a wall. The ‘Code 60′ was still active when the Al Faisal team crossed the line after 18 hours.
The top 10 after 18 hours
1. Al Faisal Racing 1 – BMW Z4 M Coupé – 417 laps
2. ARC Bratislava – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – 415 laps
3. Besaplast Racing Team – Porsche 997 GT3 Cup – 415 laps
4. Land Motorsport 2 – Porsche 997 GT3 Cup – 414 laps
5. Hubert Bergh Motorsport – Porsche 997 GT3 Cup – 412 laps
6. Jetalliance Racing – Porsche 997 GT3 Cup – 411 laps
7. Sartorius Team Black Falcon 1 – BMW M3 E92 – 402 laps
8. First Motorsport – Porsche 997 GT3 Cup S – 400 laps
9. CM Creativ Marketing GmbH – Porsche 996 GT3 Cup – 399 laps
10. Lukas Motorsport – Porsche 997 GT3 Cup – 398 laps