Precote Herberth Motorsport’s Porsche 991 GT3 R leads the 11th running of the Dubai 24 Hours by two laps as the sun rises over the Dubai Autodrome. A steady night stint from its drivers Daniel Allemann, Ralf Bohn, Robert Renauer, Alfred Renauer and Brendon Hartley keeping the car in the lead of the race by a healthy margin over the runners in touching distance behind, two of which hit trouble as the light began to return.
Behind the leading Porsche is the #3 Black Falcon Motorsport Mercedes AMG GT3 which has take over the reigns as the team’s main contender. Khaled Al Qubaisi – who was running second and on his first stint of the race at day break – in the sister #2 AMG GT3 had an off while lapping a slower car, collecting the #963 Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracan of Mirko Bortolloti as he returned to the circuit.
The steering failed as a result of the impact with the barriers, and the subsequent hit with the eighth placed Huracan forced added to the problem and. It also forced GRT’s car into retirement just before the 17 hour mark, the damage to the left side causing its door to fall off.
Al Qubaisi meanwhile was able to limp back to the pits and give the team’s mechanics a chance to repair it and get it back out. For Grasser Racing though, it’s time to pack up, as its other Huracan GT3 in the race retired after a shunt early in the race.
On the subject of contenders hitting trouble, the Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan had to have its left-rear drive shaft and suspension replaced after a collision with another car during Marco Mapelli’s final night stint, adding to the Huracan GT3 woes in the race. The team did manage to get the car out, though it has slipped from a top 10 position to 28th by the time it rejoined the race.
The various issues mentioned above meant that the Manthey Racing Porsche was able to claim a top three spot once again. The car had been running second and arguably the most capable contender to take the lead off Herberth. But the car suffered front-end damage which required a costly short repair which left it three laps off the lead by the time the tank tape had been applied to the front bumper and outside the top three for a short time.
The German Porsche outfit is still in the fight, though it’s likely that the #3 Black Falcon Mercedes and Herberth Porsche will have to hit trouble for Otto Klohs, Sven Müller, Matteo Cairoli and Jochen Krumbach to stand atop the podium later today.
Just outside the top three are the Optimum Motorsport Audi and IMSA Performance Porsche in fourth a fifth, lurking and showing flashes of pace. For Optimum in particular, Christopher Haase has been stellar, keeping the British team in the hunt for silverware should further attrition hit the frontrunners.
In the other classes Hofor Racing’s AMG GT3 is now up to sixth overall as it continues its run at the head of the A6-Am field. HTP’s Mercedes was keeping the 2016 24H Series champions in check, but it stopped out on track towards the end of the night running, giving the team breathing room.
Second and third in the class was therefore inherited by the sole-remaining Car Collection Audi – the #34 – and Gravity Racing Mercedes SLS.
SPX is also seeing its class dominated by a single entrant, the #87 GDL Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo of Franck Pelle, Rory Penttinen, Vic Rice and Pierre Ehret which has been untouchable pretty much all the way so far. Leipert still sits second with its Huracan, ahead of the #51 Fach Auto Tech Porsche.
And finally, Optimum Motorsport’s run at the top of SP3-GT4 continues, five laps clear of the chasing pack which now consists of the recovering CWS G55, #267 GDL Porsche and #229 Century Ginetta.
Seven hours left in this one, as the run through the morning truly begins.