Dubai 24h: Hartley takes victory as Herberth Porsche dominates
2015 FIA World Endurance champion Brendon Hartley won the first 24-hour race of his career as Herberth Motorsport swept to a comfortable victory in the Dubai 24 Hours.
Despite being only his second-ever GT race and his first in a 911 GT3-R, Hartley and teammates Robert Renauer, Alfred Renauer, Ralf Bohn and Daniel Allemann enjoyed a trouble-free run throughout to emerge with a two-lap margin over the identical Manthey Racing Porsche.
“It was an awesome experience, the first time for me in a 911,” said Hartley. “I had a great team, great teammates, I really enjoyed it. Hopefully that form will continue on to the WEC.”
The two Porsche teams had exchanged the lead throughout the night until Manthey sustained damage during hour 16 with gentleman driver Otto Klohs at the wheel.
The delays were significant enough to drop the car off the lead lap, although strong pace from Porsche factory driver Sven Muller and Porsche Supercup sparring partner Matteo Cairoli helped them to recover to second ahead of the sole remaining Team Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Maro Engel, Yelmer Buurman, Hubert Haupt, Adbulaziz al Faisal and Michal Bronizewski.
The #2 Black Falcon Mercedes, which qualified on pole and led the first hour in the hands of Jeroen Bleekemolen, had looked well-placed to capitalise on Manthey’s misfortune, but was forced to retire when Khaled Al-Qubaisi crashed just before daybreak.
That promoted the best of the Audis, ran by British team Optimum Motorsport, to fourth, despite a loss of power steering in the closing stages which made life hard work for Christopher Haase, Joe Osborne, Ryan Ratcliffe and Flick Haigh.
Optimum’s Ginetta G55 also took victory in the SP3-GT4 class, finishing 26th overall.
A6-Am honours went to the Horfor Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, which finished seventh overall, while Oli Webb missed out on victory in the SPX class by just 35 seconds after charging from the back of the grid and having his race overalls stolen.
Meanwhile, two ex-Formula 1 drivers endured a difficult baptism to 24 hour racing.
Neither Robert Kubica’s Forch Racing Porsche 911 GT3-R, which at one stage ran as high as second during the pitstop cycles, nor Jean-Eric Vergne’s GP Extreme Renault RS01 would make the finish, as both suffered mechanical troubles in the early evening.
Kubica targeting more endurance races after Dubai 24h
A podium and a Pro-Am class win for the Mercedes-AMG GT3 in Dubai season opener