The first casualty was the #99 Attempto Audi, an apparently broken driveshaft doing enough damage to persuade the team to throw in the towel after 262 laps, the car not, at that point, challenging the leaders.
Another car well out of contention was the #92 Herberth Porsche, a front axle problem cost the team 30 minutes late on Friday evening before the car was pitted with a separate issue, an effective retirement.
A late-race retirement was a front-runner in the early stages of the race the #54 Dinamic Porsche though would not see the flag and slid down the overall order.
7th overall and 5th in the GT3 Pro class was the #83 Racetivity Mercedes AMG GT3 Evo, Francois Perrodo, his brother-in-law Charles-Henri Samani, Manu Collard and Matthieu Vaxiviere pushing on but not finding lass-contending pace.
The remaining four would finish in the top four overall, the #63 GRT Grasser Lamborghini fourth after providing huge entertainment with a spirited drive from Mirko Bortolotti in the early stages of the race.
Third, after bad luck at the final Code 60, caught fuelling when the race went green, was the #4 HRT Bilstein AMG, a chase for the win transformed in a chase for second as a fuel-saving WRT Audi powered by, Dries Vanthoor tippy-toeing his way home ahead of Maro Engel.
The win though went to an impressive run from locally based GPX Racing, the Dubai team add the 2021 Dubai 24 Hours crown to their 2018 Spa 24 win with the veteran Alain Ferté adding a second win at this race to his 2016 win in a WRT Audi, he shares the non-pro hours with team owner Fred Fatien with Axcil Jeffries impressing in his first endurance race alongside Porsche men Mathieu Jaminet and Julien Andlauer.
The class lost two cars fairly early on, the #13 Zakspeed Viper having a troubled run before the draw of a darkened Dubai night club proved more alluring than a dark engine bay, the Russian-crewed beast parked as nightfall arrived.
Also, an early retirement was the #91 Herberth Porsche, an on-track clash with the Dinamic Porsche resulting in significant damage to the right rear corner of the #91, the team took their time to make the repair, parked it until the wee small hours, emerged to give the almost entirely rebuilt Porsche a bit of a shakedown, and packed the car away ready for the Asian Le Mans Series.
Mid-morning and we lost another as the #85 CP Racing Mercedes AMG was recovered, running at the time in the overall top 10, Charles Putnam off the circuit and with front-end damage, the car retired in the pits.
The #93 Herberth Porsche suffered a delay at around 9am with coolant loss, dropping out of the overall top 10. 11th overall and 6th in class at the flag for the blue and red 911 GT3-R.
Rounding out the top 10 overall would be the #72 Optimum Motorsport McLaren, Nick Moss putting in an iron man drive, 12 hours at the wheel with Brendan Iribe unable to drive after feeling unwell on race morning, Moss, Joe Osborne and Ollie Millroy fighting to the flag over fourth in class with the #19 non-Evo spec AMG GT3 of MP Motorsport. The Mercedes would make it to claim the place.
The #88 Car Collection Audi would have a relatively lonely, steady and reliable run to a class podium and 8th overall.
The sister #34 Car Collection Audi would finish 6th overall and second in the GT3 Am class, again with a typically stoic run, a late-race spin not seeing the car pressure from behind, but not in a position to challenge the class winner on pace either in the closing stages.
The class win went to the #5 HRT Abu Dhabi Racing AMG GT3 Evo of Khaled Al Qubaisi, Valentin Pierburg, Florian Scholze, Nico Batian and Patrick Asenheimer, a fine fifth overall despite a scare on Saturday evening when the car requires a tow to the pits after running out of fuel!
The HRT Performance crew had a simply horrible 2021 24H Dubai, the #928 Porsche out after just 5 laps, Fabio Citignola heavily into the barriers with subsequent damage to the front of the car after what looked like a failure, the team unwilling to discuss, but the car running straight on for a very considerable distance before the impact with little reduction in speed!
The driver was mercifully OK.
That left the sister #929 car but that too was out after only 114 laps, Holger Hamsen with a big hit into the pit wall that left the undertray on the pit straight together with most of the Porsche’s fluids.
Also out overnight was the #979 Speed Lover Porsche, contact, and other issues eventually overwhelming the teams desire to fight further.
Indeed it was the second Speed Lover Porsche that was the next domino in the class to be toppled, front end damage ending the day for the #978.
And still, the usually rock-solid class had dramas to commit 10 am the #924 was to too, heavy front and rear end damage for the Huber racing Porsche, that left just a podium-full of class runners with five hours to run!
And more, Tim Pappas running well in the #989 MRS GT car suddenly had “all the alarms go off at once, no warning” the car in the pits with what looks to be a potentially terminal engine/ cooling issue. The team though set to work and the car was running to the finish for a podium slot.
The two remaining untroubled runners performed the usual 991 class task of climbing the overall order as others stumbled, second in class going to the #909 Duwo racing car and the win, and 12th overall going to the #991 NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Porsche of Harry Hilders, Gijs Bessem, Bob Herber and Roeland Voerman.
The #451 3Y Technology BMW M4 GT4 would prop up the field after a troubled weekend, multiple contacts giving the locally based crew a busy night.
The remaining quartet were neatly split into a pair of battling duos, the #452 Sorg Rennsport BMW looking to get onto terms with the #488 Dragon Racing AMG GT4, the AMG squad though would hang on for third.
A handful of laps ahead were the lead pair, the #401 Prosport Aston Martin Vantage GT4 has been keeping up the pressure on the leading ST Racing BMW M4 throughout, the pair separated by around a single lap.
A rapid and mostly trouble-free effort though saw the ST BMW emerge victorious, Canadians Samantha Tan and Nick Wittmer and Asian le Mans Series-bound US duo Jon Miller and Chandler Hull taking the win.
The four-car field would have a troubled time, all four cars having time in the welcoming arms of their respective crews, the GT3 Poland crew getting more quality time than most, the rear end of their Lamborghini Super Trofeo and substantial chunks of the mechanicals getting replaced overnight.
The Poles would eventually emerge around 100 laps off the class leader but their Slovakian pals at ARC Bratislava’s laps galore advantage would move to a static target at 11:15, the engine of the #707 expiring with Miro Konopka at the wheel.
The #701 Vortex was another car that had troubles overnight but ran thereafter reliably if far from spectacularly carrying substantial rear end damage into the final hour before crawling around with smoke trailing, that left the Vortex team having to make a rapid suspension repair to ensure the car re-emerged to the second in class from the stricken ARC Huracan, they did so with minutes to spare, the ARC car would be classified third.
By then though it had overhauled the retired ARC Bratislava’s lap-count to claim second in class.
Liepert’s #710 Huracan Super Trofeo was the least delayed car in the class, briefly losing the class lead overnight to the ARC Bratislava Lamborghini.
A trouble-free run after regaining the lead was all that was required to claim the class win, 14th overall for Gregg Gorski, Gerhard Watzinger, Kurt Thiel, Oscar Lee and Fidel Leib.
The #114 Autorama Golf wasn’t the first car in the class to hit trouble, but the car, almost entirely rebuilt after a significant shunt on Wednesday, was the first to call time on the race after further issue, the team focusing on their remaining pair of VWs.
Ongoing problems for the #111 RKC/ ZRT (gearbox) and #154 QSR Racing Audi RS3s saw both teams looking at attempting to get out to finish the race other than chasing positions.
The #101 Red Camel jordans.nl Cupra had an unusually troubled run that left the team fighting to the finish. They’ll be pleased to have brought it home, but disappointed with a lowly finish.
Another car with overnight issues cramping their style was the #138 Simpson Motorsport Audi, they’d plough on to the finish after front-end issues but would be disappointed with 8th on class.
One better, but more disappointed, would be the #133 Cupra of Zengo Motorsport after the car suffered late-race engine electronics issues that sent them tumbling down the order.
An even later race issue saw the 6th placed all-Thai crewed #107 BBR Cupra recovered to the pits leaving the AC Motorsport pair of Audis unchallenged in 4th (#188) and 5th (#199).
The #1 Autorama/Wolf VW Golf had a lonely final part of the race to claim the last spot on the podium whilst the duo battling for the cars win started the final hour just 90 seconds apart.
It would though be a trouble-free run to the flag from the #131 TOPCAR Sport Cupra take the win (18th overall) Fabian Danz, Adrian Spescha, Patrick Sing, Ronny Jost and Benjamin Leuchter, the Swiss team coming home eventually almost two minutes clear of their race-long tormentors in the #112 Autorama/ Wolf VW Golf.
The long-time class-leading #218 Sally Racing Cupra tumbled down the order mind-morning on Sunday, a clutch failure seeing the team remove the engine to get to the problem.
That saw the #278 CWS Ginetta briefly take the lead before the G55 too pitted with cooling issues.
That, in turn, saw the #208 PK Carsport BMW M2 CS Racing lead the class going into the final three hours, it would hold the advantage to the flag, father and son Bert and Stienes Longin, Peter Guelinckx and Stijn Lowette taking the win.
A steady run from the #302 fun-M BMW M2 CS racing would claim third in class.
The delayed #280 Ginetta overhauled the delayed Cupra to claim 4th, CWS putting in a great effort to get both G55s to the finish after the cars arrived at 3am on race morning!