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24H Dubai: Pre-Race Paddock Notes

New colours, new cars and a second-hand Merc

Early casualty in the TCR ranks

While touring the pits for the first time, DSC spotted a heavily-damaged #127 Bonk Motorsport Audi RS3 TCR, which suffered heavy front-end damage after an incident involving another car exiting the pits during one of the open practice sessions yesterday.

Audi has confirmed to DSC that the car will take no further part in the meeting due to the extent of the damage. Thankfully though, the drivers involved in the incident are reported as “ok”.

The car was the first official retirement of the meeting, sadly, before the official practice sessions even started.

Night Practice claims GT3 victims

Optimum Motorsport and Gulf Racing Japan had a tough time last night after Qualifying, both cars ending the day with heavy damage after incidents in Night Practice.

For Optimum Motorsport, the rear-end and front of its A6 Audi R8 LMS GT3 was severely damaged after a shunt, the chassis looking bent after its hit. The team has confirmed that it will take no part in the race today, as the team shifts its attention to its Ginetta G55 effort.

For Gulf Racing Japan, the mechanics were hard at work all morning to ensure its Porsche 911 GT3 R is ready to go. The entire right-hand side of the car was damaged after an off at Turn 15. It did complete a lap in this Morning’s warm up, but was spotted by DSC with mechanics still frantically working on the underside of the car after the running. Fingers crossed it takes the start.

Elsewhere in the session, there was drama for the #27 GP-Extreme Renault R.S.01, which had to be brought back to the pits on a flatbed after losing its rear-left wheel. There was no visible damage on the car however.

In the session, the MS7 WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 topped the times with a 1:55.356.

Black Falcon shows off its new colours

Black Falcon, which always has a strong presence at the head of the field in the 24 Hours of Dubai, is gunning for its fourth overall victory in the race, and with a trio of Mercedes AMG GT3s this year.

As usual, the team’s liveries are striking, above shown in the team pre-event photoshoot, nice and clean before they hit the track.

ALFAB Ready for 570S GT4 Dubai debut

2017 Swedish GT GT4 class champion ALFAB Racing are at Dubai this weekend, debuting the McLaren 570S GT4 in the race. The car, which won multiple titles around the world in 2017, is due to take on the healthy GT4 class this weekend.

It has previous experience in the 24H Series, racing with Aston Martin Vantage and Porsche Cayman GT4s, competing at Dubai back in 2014 with a Vantage.

Phoenix’s new Audi GT4s on show

There’s new toys in customer team hands this weekend in the GT4 class, with the Audi R8 LMS GT4, BMW M4 GT4 and Mercedes AMG GT4 all making their full customer debuts this weekend.

Above is the all-Hong-Kong driver crew racing with Phoenix Racing this weekend, who are trying out the new R8 LMS GT4.

New Honda Civic TCR set for first race

DSC spoke to Ricky Coomber, the owner of the RKC/TGM Motorsport Honda Civic Type R TCR, which is making its global race debut here this weekend. The car here, is Chassis #1, and supported by Honda and Jas Motorsport, and will take on the hotly-contested TCR class as an un-homologated car, with extra weight and less power.

“It’s just a test session for us really,” he said. “We’re not gunning for times, we just want a good result after going round and round. The car has been great so far though, no real issues.”

Look out for more on this effort on DSC next week!

How to watch

The full race can be streamed live on the 24H Series website, which also has live timing, its YouTube channel, with free audio also Radio Le Mans website, using its RS1 feed.

It gets underway today at 14:00 local time in Dubai.