12 hours down, and 12 hours to go, and it’s still a Porsche leading the race after Herberth Motorsport led at the six-hour mark, but it’s been all change at the front as the night wears on in Dubai.
Leading the race now is the Manthey Racing team, its #12 Porsche 911 GT3 R heading the four cars up front still on the lead lap, with lars Kern at the wheel.
Herberth’s example is now down to sixth place meanwhile, after a front upright bolt came loose with about 15 hours remaining, costing the team a few laps in the pits as the mechanics rectified the issue. A really tough break for the 24H Series stalwart, which had led the majority of the first half of the race to that point.
Manthey’s lead car’s lead isn’t a comfortable one, at just 10 seconds. We’ve reached the point now where the race has entered a more rhythmic phase, in which contenders have finally emerged.
Second on the road is the #3 Black Falcon Mercedes, Luca Stolz trying to chase down the leading Porsche, the #2 Black Falcon AMG GT3 is third.
Fourth, and the final car still on the lead lap is the #777 MS7 WRT Audi R8 LMS GT4, which with Dries Vanthoor and Chris Mies behind the wheel has managed to keep tabs with the leaders, and through pit cycles occasionally takes the top spot.
So far it’s been a race with very few on-track battles up front, the cars spaced out through numerous Code 60 periods, and changing places due to varying pit strategies in place by the teams up and down pit lane.
With the Herberth Porsche back in sixth, the leader in A6 Am is now outside the top three, the #25 HTP Motorsport Mercedes holding a comfortable lap lead in fifth place overall over the Herberth 911 now. The Hofor Racing Mercedes holds third in the category.
Remarkably, eighth place is now held by the delayed #964 Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracan which lost a lot of time early in the race after multiple punctures. The car has been climbing the ranks,. it’s still five laps off the leading quartet, but is inside the top 10 and well on its way to salvaging a good result.
Best of the non-GT3 runners is still the #37 Tsunami Porsche which continues to dominate the SPX class, and is now up to 15th overall.
Further back, the TCR class leader is now first of the TCE runners in the race after multiple casualties to SP3 class front runners through the darkness. Top of the pack is the LMS Racing Seat Leon, which now has a clear two lap advantage over the chasing pack in the class, which are now the Liquid Moly Team Engstler VW Golf and LAP57 Audi.
Of the notable SP3 runners to hit trouble, the #278 CWS Ginetta is being repaired in the garage after the #164 Renault Clio had a spin in front of it, causing a collision and the #229 Century Motorsport Ginetta had an engine fire.
In GT4, the best placed car is 34th overall, and is still the #248 Phoenix Racing Audi, which is having a dominant run thus far, chased by the #264 Black Falcon Mercedes (now a lap down) and sister Phoenix #248 Audi. The big story in GT4 was the demise of the Race Scout Winward HTP Mercedes, which had an issue out on track while running second in class, is still in the garage being looked at and sliding down the order.