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Bleekemolen, Black Falcon Lead After Opening Hour At Dubai

Trouble for the pole-sitting GRT Lambo

With an hour of racing completed in the 2018 24 Hours of Dubai, Black Falcon leads the way with its #3 Mercedes AMG GT3, driven currently by Jeroen Bleekemolen.

Bleekemolen took the lead in the race after disaster struck the pole-sitting #964 Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Mirko Bortolotti after 20 minutes of racing. The car suffered a rear-left puncture early in the lap, handing the lead to the hard-charging Dutchman.

It was a costly puncture for Bortolotti and the team, who led early and broke the GT3 lap record in the opening laps, with a 1:58.199. By the time he’d steered the car back to the pits, he was a lap down. 40 minutes later, after the stop, the car is 41st overall, and three laps down.

“I don’t know what happened, I just picked up a puncutre, we need to check what happened, maybe it was from some debris off line while lapping traffic,” Bortolotti explained. “We haven’t had a puncture all weekend. It’s disappointing but there’s a long way to go.”

Behind Bleekemolen up front is the MS7 WRT Audi R8 LMS of Chris Mies, who battled hard with the leader for much of the opening hour, looking to hand Audi its first lead of the 2018 running off the race. He was unable to get past though, through the constant flow of traffic.

Rik Breukers, in Grasser’s #963 also put the pressure on at times though, the young gun in the golden GRT Lambo sitting third after an hour, and leading A6 Am after getting past the #9 BWT Mucke Motorsport Mercedes of Markus Winkelhock which is now fourth.

Manthey Racing’s Porsche in A6 Pro, with Sven Muller aboard, completed the top five.

Elsewhere in the A6 class, two other cars hit trouble, the #7 Black Falcon Mercedes, Rui Aquas coming into contact with the #78 Speedlover Porsche while running 10th overall, damaging the front-end bodywork and the suspension.

The car had to go into the garage for repairs, and when it came out had to dive straight back in for further repairs after a slow lap with suspension issues.

The #28 GP-Extreme Renault R.S.01 also hit trouble towards the end of the hour, Axcil Jefferies pulling off at Turn 15 with 45 minutes run with a gearbox issue, causing the first Code 60 period of the race. It’s still in the garage on the high jacks being worked on.

Further down the order, the GT4 class is being led by the Besagroup Racing Mercedes AMG GT4, with the #248 Phoenix Racing Audi second and the ALFAB McLaren 570S GT4 third.

With the pit cycle in swing, the order has changed, Phoenix holding a 1-2 early in the race with the #247 R8 leading the #248.

It’s the same situation in the TCR class, which ran through its pit cycle at the end of the hour. As it stands, the Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen leads the Stanco&Tanner and the Atech Seat Leon. Earlier in the hour, the Modena Motorsports Seat of Mathias Beche and AC Motorsport Audi RS3 took turns in the lead before coming in for their first stops.

In SPX, Oliver Webb leads in the Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan by a comfortable margin of 16 seconds over Come Ledogar in the Tsunami Porsche.