At the quarter mark in the 2018 running of the Dubai 24 Hours, 2017 winner Herberth Motorsport holds a healthy lead out front, but is being chased down by the lead Black Falcon Mercedes.
The Porsche team, which is running in the A6 Am c¯lass, holds a lead of almost a minute out on track with the sun down and headlights ablaze, after some impressive driving by Ralf Bohn, Dennis Olsen, Robert Renauer and Daniel Alleman and luck during a Code 60.
The team took the lead of the race in the second hour during a Code 60 for an oil spillage on track from the #786 BMW, which lasted over 30 minutes. It jumped from third to the lead during that time.
“There’s a lot of pressure, everything is fine though, we are happy with the car so far. We are trying to be very careful, look after the tyres and go fast.” Allemann said.
Behind Dennis Olsen in the leading 911 GT3 R is the A6 Pro leader Jeroen Bleekemolen in the #3 Black Falcon Mercedes AMG GT3, which led at the end of the first hour.
It hasn’t been challenging for the lead much though, since the aforementioned Code 60, which saw it slip down the order and far back from the Herberth car. Bleekemolen, who is back in the car after stints from Khaled Al Qubaisi, Manuel Metzger and Luca Stolz, is reeling in Olsen though as Hour 7 begins. Herberth’s largest lead was a minute and a half, and is now slowly reducing as the pro drivers catch up.
Third on the timing and scoring is the #12 Manthey Racing Porsche, the car challenging for the lead at various points, taking the reigns at the front a couple of times while the front-runners were out of sync during pit cycles. It’s now over 90 seconds behind the leading car.
Black Falcon’s sister #2 Mercedes is fourth, with the #25 HTP Motorsport Mercedes (second in A6 AM) in fifth and the MS7 WRT Audi sixth, after running as high as second in the early running. Third in A6 AM is #33 Car Collection Audi, currently running strongly in seventh overall.
Elsewhere in the A6 GT3 class, a few cars hit trouble between hours two and six. The D’station Racing Porsche has suffered two punctures, as has the pole-sitting #964 Grasser Racing Lamborghini. The #7 RAM Racing Mercedes meanwhile, has been forced into the retirement after Ramon Vos had to stop at the pit entry with the team’s AMG GT3 on fire in the fifth hour.
Of the other key classes, the #248 Phoenix Racing Audi continues to lead the GT4 class, pulling away slowly from the #264 Black Falcon Mercedes, which is almost a lap down. Third is the Team Race Scout/Winward/HTP Mercedes, inheriting the place after a wheel bearing issue for the Swedish ALFAB McLaren 570S GT4.
In TCR, there’s been plenty of changes, the LMS Racing Seat LCR leading the way over the Modena Motorsport Seat, which has led at various points. The Lap57 Audi is third, with the Liqui Moly Team Engstler VW fourth.
And climbing the leaderboard as the front-runners get delayed is the SPX-leading #37 Tsunami Porsche, which has now entered the top 20.
A couple of the TCR runners have hit trouble in the opening hours, including the #212 Stanco&Tanner Seat, which had a brake fire and the #888 AC Motorsports Audi which stopped out on track.
Another incident of note concerned the #232 Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G55, which suffered a major fire in the fifth hour, bringing out a lengthy Code 60. Ade Barwick, driving at the time, is ok, but the car has retired.
It book-ends a tough two days for the team, which had to retire its other entry in the race – its Audi R8 LMS GT3 – before the race started after a shunt from Ollie Wilkinson in Night Practice.