Maro Engel starred in Qualifying ahead of the 15th edition of the 24H Series Dubai 24 Hours today, taking pole position for Toksport WRT in its #777 Mercedes, heading a front-row lockout for previous-generation AMG GT3s.
Starting behind Engel and his teammates Luca Stolz, Martin Konrad, Philip Ellis and Patrick Assenheimer from second on the grid will be the #4 Black Falcon Mercedes. Dutchman Jeroen Bleekemolen set the time, a 1:57.537, just 0.047 off Engel’s pole-winning 1:57.490 which was set early in the GT session after the two traded fastest times.
“It is a massive challenge with traffic, and I got that clear track originally but never got another! But I’m really happy for Toksport WRT,” said Engel after the session.
“They worked through the night, were done at 4 am fixing the car (after an incident in testing) and they’ve given us a great car.
“It looks like the race is going to be wet tomorrow. We need to put it together and have a clean race.”
First of the other GT3 brands was Porsche, the #91 Herberth Motorsport 911 GT3 R which ended up with a 1:57.572. A third 2016-spec AMG GT3 took fourth, the #84 HTP Winward entry, which was within two-tenths of the pole.
The #7 MS7 WRT Audi R8 LMS Evo ended up completing the top five, with a 1:57.851. The #31 sister WRT Audi, which topped free practice, ended up seventh.
Two new 2020-spec AMG GT3s are on the huge 49-car GT entry for this weekend’s race in the UAE. The best of the pair was the GT3-PRO entered #10 SPS automotive example, which will start from ninth in class and 13th overall.
The other, entered in CP Racing in GT3-AM, will start from 20th on the grid and eighth in the sub-class.
Outside of the GT3 cars on the grid, the fastest of the other GTs was the #710 GTX-entered Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo, which managed the 19th fastest time, a 1:59.838.
The GTX field this year, which is seven entries strong, includes two Australian MARC Cars from Cor Euser Racing and VDS Racing Adventures and a Vortex V8.
In the GT4 class ST Racing’s #438 BMW M4 GT4 took pole, with a 2:08.829.
Before the GT cars headed out for Qualifying the 19 TCE cars gunned for pole. Leading the way was the #278 CWS Engineering Ginetta, which took pole by over a second with a 2:08.531.
The G55 is entered in the TCX category, which features just three entries. The second fastest car, a Ligier JS 2R entered by Nordschleife Racing, ended up 12th on the grid and 3.9 seconds off the pole time.
“I was able to benefit from a good slipstream from a TCR car. My fastest lap ever around Dubai Autodrome, I am really pleased with that,” CWS Engineering owner and driver Colin White reported to Radiolemans.com’s Johnny Palmer.
Best of the TCR cars, of which 13 took part in qualifying, was the #111 Lestrup Racing Team VW Golf GTi TCR, which will start second in TCE.
Prior to the Qualifying session, there was Free Practice and a parade for the entrants. The parade featured of more than 50 race cars, all of which will compete at this weekend’s 24H Series season opener.
They drove in formation from the Dubai Autodrome’s pit lane to the neighbouring Motor City. Each car was then parked on First Avenue, the social hub of Motor City, where local fans could get up close and personal.
There was also a six-hour race on Tuesday evening, the Winter Endurance Kampioenschap’s New Year race, which is usually held at Zandvoort but was moved to Dubai for this year due to the Dutch circuit being developed ahead of the Grand Prix.
23 cars took the start in the race, which was won by Speed Lover’s Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, which finished multiple laps ahead of the other competitors.
The 2020 Dubai 24 Hours is set to begin at 15:00 local time tomorrow.
Image courtesy of 24H Series