Jeroen Bleekemolen controlled the first hour of racing in Dubai driving the pole-sitting the #2 Black Falcon Mercedes AMG GT3, and leads the race by a handful seconds over the #963 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan of Mirko Bortolotti.
“The car felt great, especially after the Code 60,” said Bleekemolen after his stint. “It was fun having Mirko behind me as we were teammates last year and kept glancing at each other. The driving standards have been pretty good, there was a bit of madness, but that’s normal, most of the drivers and doing very well.”
Third overall meanwhile is the #14 Optimum Audi R8 LMS of Christopher Hasse after a move just before the turn of the hour on the SPS Mercedes AMG GT3 of Lance-David Arnold who spent the majority of his first stint climbing the order.
Rounding out the top five was the #76 IMSA Performance Porsche of Maxime Jousse which quietly moved up the standings while negotiating the relentless amount of slower traffic.
Earlier in the race Robert Renauer in the #911 Precote Herberth Porsche sat third, but the team gambled and came in for fuel during a Code 60 which proved to cost the team a lot of time as the race went green while it was in pit lane. Renauer emerged outside the top 10 after rejoining the race and is now back up to ninth.
The opening hour of the race was frantic, though the majority of the front-running A6-GT3 machines taking it easy and refraining from getting involved in battles for position. The only really notable moment was Jordan Groger’s GP Extreme Renault R.S.01 clattering the side of the Konrad Lamborghini of Marc Basseng while in a battle for 13th position.
Instead the majority of action was further down the field with multiple cars having issues, the most prevalent being the #48 ZRT Motorsport Honda Integra. The locally-entered car slipped into limp mode multiple times before stopping out on track 40 minutes into the race causing a Code 60 which prompted a few early stops. At the time of writing, it’s sitting in the garage being worked on.
Of classes outside of A6-Pro the V8 Racing Corvette C6 ZR1 of Duncan Huisman holds slim lead over the #27 GP Extreme Renault R.S.01 of Stuart Hall; the pair currently circulating just outside the top 10 in the 11th and 12th positions. Third in the class is the Gravity Racing Mercedes SLS.
SPX meanwhile is topped by VLN-regular Martin Ragginger in the #51 Fach Tech Auto Porsche Cup MR entry. At the back of the class standings though it must be noted that the #10 Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini Super Trofeo which was rebuilt as a new car overnight before the race is up to 39th overall at the hands of Oliver Webb after starting dead last.
Of the GT4 runners in SP3-GT4, Jann Mardenboroguh has driven away from the chasing pack, and leads the class comfortably in the RJN Nissan 370Z after taking the lead off the CWS Ginetta of Colin White which has since slipped to third behind Jack Mitchell’s Century G55.
23 hours remaining, with plenty still to play for in every class.