Precote Herberth Motorsport leads the 24 Hours of Dubai has the night hours begin at the Dubai Autodrome, following a fight back from outside the top 10 in the first hour. The team spent much of the fifth hour in contention to take the top spot while the #12 Manthey Racing Porsche held the top spot, then pitted at an opportune time under a Code 60 and gained over a minute, taking the lead.
Manthey’s A6-Pro Porsche 991 GT3 R sits in second place, with the #2 Black Falcon Mercedes which led the opening hour trailing and sitting third overall. Varying pit strategies pushed the pole-sitters down the order and allowed various GT3 runners to spend time in many of the top 10 spots, before Jeroen Bleekemolen climbed back in the #2 as the light faded around the circuit and began to chase down the race-leading Manthey Porsche driven by Otto Klohs. He took the place but was pushed back down thanks to the most recent round of stops.
Behind, the second Black Falcon Mercedes sits fourth, with the #24 Optimum Motorsport Audi R8 LMS rounding out the top five. As it stands, you could make a case for any of the current top eight winning the race, with the pack shuffling frequently.
The opening hours, while not host to many enthralling on-tack battles between front-running cars, was characterised by two sizeable incidents out on track involving Lamborghini Huracans and a third involving three of the non-GT3 runners.
HB Racing provided the first real drama, with its #7 Huracan GT3 stopping on track on fire with Andrea Amici driving. Amici had to dash out the car, which was engulfed in flames by the time he could stop the car, and eventually put the fire out himself. It’s believed that a blown tyre broke the fuel line, causing the issue. It caused, predictably, a lengthy Code 60 at the two-hour mark and its retirement sadly has cut 2016 BTCC runner up Sam Tordoff any running in his debut 24-hour race ahead of his upcoming British GT programme and potential Blancpain GT effort
The second was a shunt with three hours left between the #964 GRT Lamborghini of Adrian Amstutz colliding with the #303 Red Camel Seat, which caused the two cars’ wheels to lock together. That also caused a 45-minute Code 60 while the detached the two cars from each other.
And the third was a three-car pile up which was believed to have seen the #246 Reiter KTM X-Bow hitting the #81 Forch Porsche Cup car, the pair then veering into the #131 Hofor BMW which as a result suffered severe rear-left damage.
Meanwhile, in the other major classes, A6-Am is headed by the #28 GP Extreme Renault R.S.01 with the #17 IDEC Sport Mercedes AMG GT3 close behind. The SPX leader is the GDL Racing Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo, with the #10 Leipert Lambo remarkably second in the class. The car, which started the race dead last, led the class too, and now sits 26th overall.
Further down the running order Ginetta now holds a strong lead in SP4-GT4 with CWS, after the early class leaders in the RJN GT Academy Nissan 370Z suffered a suspension failure after three hours while Ricardo Sanchez was driving his first stint. The Mexican was very lucky to get the car back to the pits, as he narrowly missed hitting one of the Vortex’s which was being recovered after grinding to a halt on the circuit. The car has since gone back out there after extensive work by the team, but sits 70th overall.
Behind the leading CWS G55 of Colin White, Tom Hibbert, Mike Simpson and Brandon Gdovic is the ALFAB Porsche Cayman, with the Century Motorsport and Optimum G55s third and fourth in the class.