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For the second year in a row the green Lamborghini Huracán GT3 of GRT Grasser Racing Team (#63), under the steady hands of Mirko Bortolotti, took pole position in qualifying at Dubai Autodrome on Thursday (10 January) to give the team another shot at winning the Hankook 24H Dubai, having failed to convert the pole last year.
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Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha (#11, Jiri Pisarik / Josef Kral / Matteo Malucelli) currently leads the first-ever 12H SILVERSTONE in an event beset by heavy rain and changeable conditions.

The Ferrari 488 GT3 had started 9th on a dry grid after a difficult qualifying session earlier this morning, but smooth running during an early onslaught of rain allowed the Czech Republic team to work their way up the order. Indeed, the opening round of the 2018 European Championship has been far from smooth sailing for many of the pre-event favourites.

he current overall and GT leaders had enjoyed a sensational battle in appalling conditions with the IDEC SPORT RACING Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#17, Patrice Lafargue / Paul Lafargue / Dimitri Enjalbert) before the French-based machine ended its day against the pit wall. As a result, 2nd in-class is now held by the Forch Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R (#29, Patrick Eisemann / Robert Lukas / Zeljko Drmic), while the GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 (#963, Rolf Ineichen / Mark Ineichen / Franck Perera / Phil Keen) currently completes the A6-Pro podium with seven more hours of racing to go. The race will re-commence on Saturday at 10.30am GMT

Having started from pole position, the Ginetta G57 (#4, Steve Tandy / Bob Berridge / Mike Simpson / Charlie Robertson) had led all but five of the opening 81 laps around the 5.891km Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit, only to lose time on-track as temperatures, and grip, dropped considerably as the weather worsened. Changeable conditions across the first five hours have already caught out the second Simpson Motorsport Ginetta G57 (#6, John Corbett / Neale Muston / Andreas Laskaratos / Mike Simpson), which got off to a slow start at the beginning before damaging its underside during a high-speed trip across the grass. The #4 P2 PROTO retains the P2 class lead in 4th place overall, but the sister #6 prototype would not return before the end of the race, and will incur a penalty as repair work is conducted overnight during parc ferme conditions.
 
The Attempto Racing Lamborghini Huracàn GT3 (#66, Steijn Schothorst / Jürgen Krebs / Adrian Amstutz) is the current A6-Am class leader, having pulled three laps clear of the FF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 (#23, Ivor Dunbar / Bonamy Grimes / Johnny Mowlem) and the Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS (#33, Ali Çapan / Dimitri Parhofer / Isaac Tutumlu Lopez / Jason Baker). Interestingly, A6-Am now boasts three different manufacturers in the top three. 

Problems meanwhile would strike the A6-Am – and overall GT – polesitter early on. Much as it did at the Hankook 24H DUBAI in January, the second GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 (#964, Rik Breukers / Mauro Calamia / Christoph Lenz / Roberto Pampanini) would suffer a left rear puncture on-track, dropping out of the class lead as a result. Incredibly, low temperatures and high kerbs would also see the Herberth Motorsport Porsche 991 GT3 R (#911, Daniel Allemann / Ralf Bohn / Robert Renauer / Alfred Renauer) suffer a similar puncture just a few laps later, although the reigning champions of the Continents have so far recovered to 6th on the road. 
 
Despite the early exit of its A6-Pro entry, IDEC SPORT RACING (#75, David Abramczyk / Stephane Adler / Michael Blanchemain / Romain Vozniak) continues to lead the all-Porsche 991 class ahead of both Porsche Lorient Racing 991-I Cup cars (#65, Jean-François Demorge / Alain Demorge / Gilles Blasco / Frederic Ancel, and #64, Philippe Polette / Frederic Lelievre / Mathieu Pontais / Pascal Gibon).
 
Series debutants Fox Motorsport (#47, Jamie Stanley / Glenn Sherwood / Ben Clucas) hold a slim lead over the Speed Lover Porsche 991-I (#78, Phillippe Denes / Dominique Bastien) in the SPX class after the class polesitter had to be recovered from the gravel trap at half-distance.  The sole remaining PROTO entry meanwhile – the Krafft Racing Norma M20 FC (#97, Régis Tref / Norbert Sauvain / Karl Pedraza) – still leads the CN1 class, despite a collision on-track and 20-minutes in the pits to repair a damaged left front wheel. 

Sadly, the Ram Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#5, Tom Onslow-Cole / Remon Leonard Vos) was forced to pull out of the event before the start of the race, heavy impact over the kerbs during qualifying dealing the team a terminal engine issue.
 
Today’s program continues with Night Practice at 19.00 GMT. After a brief hiatus overnight, the GT and PROTO runners continue race action again on Saturday at 10.30 GMT, and will be joined by the TCE division as the annual Hankook 24H SILVERSTONE also gets underway.

 

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Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#303, Ivo Breukers / Rik Breukers / Konstantins Calko) has won a frenetic opening round of the 2018 European Championship at Silverstone in the UK, an event heavily affected by changeable weather and track temperatures.

Having already competed in the GT and PROTO-exclusive 12-hour race earlier in the weekend, Rik Breukers took the #303 SEAT Leon TCR across the line to complete 411 laps of the 5.891km Silverstone Arena Circuit.

So treacherous were the conditions at the freshly resurfaced Silverstone Circuit, the race-winning Red Camel-Jordans.nl SEAT was one car of many that had to be recovered from the sodden infield gravel traps, but strong pace throughout Saturday afternoon and evening allowed the #303 entry to pull 5m 44s clear of Team Bleekemolen (#100, Sebastiaan Bleekemolen / Melvin de Groot / Rob Smith / Rene Steenmetz) come the chequered flag. The result marks the first TCR class win for Red Camel-Jordans.nl in the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook since 2016, as result. Ironically, the team’s last success would also be achieved at Silverstone.
 
Having won outright at last year’s Hankook 24H SILVERSTONE, the Team Bleekemolen SEAT Leon TCR would hold off last year’s Hankook 12H Spa-FRANCORCHAMPS winner LMS Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#129, Antti Buri / Kari-Pekka Laaksonen / Olli Kangas) to finish 2nd overall, while the all-Finnish team’s 3rd place cemented an all-SEAT podium in the TCR class.
 
Holmgaard Motorsport (#102, Magnus Holmgaard / Roy Edland / Jens Mølgaard / Jonas Holmgaard / René Rasmussen) meanwhile was the first non-SEAT competitor home in 4th, the Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR DSG finishing just ahead of NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#175, Gijs Bessem / Harry Hilders / Ronny Jost / Fabian Danz). The latter was one of two Bas Koeten Racing affiliated teams racing the brand new Cupra TCR at Silverstone this weekend, the second – Kawasaki Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#155, Kristian Jepsen / Jan Sorensen / Anthony Lambert / JM Littman) – completing the race in 8th position overall.  

An impressive run for series debutants J W BIRD Motorsport meanwhile (#221, Paul Dehadray / Kieran Griffin / William Paul / Rory Butcher) started with a 38-lap run at the head of the field during the first two hours, and would end with a solid 9th-placed finish.
 
The top two finishers in A3 would finish line-astern in 6th and 7th places overall, the Hofor Racing powered bei Bonk Motorsport BMW M235i Racing Cup (#131, Martin Kroll / Michael Schrey / Michael Fischer / Bernd Küpper / Gustav Engljaehringer) just pipping the BMW of reigning CUP1 class champions DUWO Racing (#235, Philip Harris / Oliver Bryant / Grahame Bryant / Adam Dawson / William Plant). Further back, the PDM Motorsport BMW (#999, Dimitri Kluyskens / Maxence Vandekerckhove / Pierre De Landsheere / Peter Puype) would seal an all-BMW podium in A3, rounding out the overall Top 10 in the process.
 
Reigning 24H TCE SERIES champion Synchro Motorsport meanwhile (#76, Alyn James / Daniel Wheeler / Matt Neal) would finish a character-building event for the FK2 Honda Civic Type-R 4th in-class following a complete engine and gearbox change during the night. Few teams defined ‘character building’ more than Excelr8 Motorsport, however. The team’s MINI F56 JCW (#134, Max Bladon / Rob Smith / Ricky Coomber / Szeto Wing Shun Ivan / Clement Tong) would break a track rod after an accident in the opening few laps of the race, and would spend nearly five hours in the pits during a lengthy engine change. The sister Audi RS3 LMS SEQ meanwhile (#106, David Marcussen / Akhil Rabindra / Sandy Mitchell / James Kaye) would suffer intermittent electrical gremlins, the root cause of which was eventually found to be a wastegate failure in the turbocharger. Incredibly, both cars would still make the finish.  

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The Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#2, Abdulaziz Al Faisal / Hubert Haupt / Yelmer Buurman / Gabriele Piana) has won the 24H DUBAI 2018, the 13th running of the annual event that, at one point, had looked likely to be won by the sister #3 entry.

Abdulaziz Al Faisal drove the #2 Mercedes-AMG across the finish line after completing 606 laps of the 5.39km Dubai Autodrome. The result continues the event’s domination by German manufacturers and cements Buurman, Haupt and Al Faisal as dual winners of the Hankook 24H DUBAI following their first victory together in 2015 with Black Falcon.
 
“I can’t express how happy I am!” explained Al Faisal. “My thanks to my team and my teammates, it’s been an amazing job from everyone. I’ve done this for 11 years now, and finally I’ve won it for a second time. It was a bit harder this year, the competition has grown, but I’m really happy to be here!”
 
The overall 24H GT and A6-Pro leaders finished just two laps ahead of the Manthey Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R (#12, Otto Klohs / Lars Kern / Mathieu Jaminet / Sven Müller), which replicated the runners-up spot it achieved at the same event 12 months earlier. Incredibly, the GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracán GT3 (#964, Mark Ineichen / Rolf Ineichen / Christian Engelhart / Mirko Bortolotti) finished just five seconds further back, completing the overall top three and A6-Pro podium in the process.

The Lamborghini had qualified on the 24H GT pole position, but would fall to the back of the pack in the opening stages thanks to three successive punctures.
 
The SPS automotive performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#16, Valentin Pierburg / Tim Müller / Lance-David Arnold / Dominik Baumann) was the fastest A6-Am runner in 4th place overall, finishing just one lap ahead of the V8 Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6-ZR1 (#18, Luc Braams / Duncan Huisman / Alex van t'Hoff / Rick Abresch / Finlay Hutchison).

The HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#25, Alexander Hrachowina / Indy Dontje / Bernd Schneider / Martin Konrad / Brice Bosi) had led the class until its fuel cap worked itself loose, coinciding with gearbox problems, but recovered to complete the A6-Am podium. Reigning Champions of the Continents Herberth Motorsport (#911, Daniel Allemann / Ralf Bohn / Robert Renauer / Alfred Renauer / Dennis Olsen) could do no better than 4th in-class thanks to power steering failure at an event the #911 Porsche 991 GT3 R won outright last year with Formula 1 Toro Rosso driver Brendon Hartley at the wheel.
 
In the newly segregated 991-Pro class, the FACH AUTO TECH Porsche 991-II Cup (#62, Matt Campbell / Julien Andlauer / Thomas Preining / Jens Richter) took class victory ahead of category polesitters race:pro motorsport (#63, Stanislav Minsky / Murad Sultanov / Klaus Bachler / David Jahn / Nicholas Foster) and Porsche 991-I Cup (#82, Artem Soloviev / Vadim Meshcheriakov / Denis Gromov / Roman Rusinov).

The second race:pro motorsport entry (#26, Stephen Grove / Bertram Hornung / Matthias Jeserich / Glenn van Parijs) fared better in 911-Am, taking category honours ahead of the MRS GT-Racing Porsche 991-II Cup (#67, James Thorpe / Sean Mc Inerney / Phil Quaife / Claudio Cappelli). Former 24H SERIES champions Duel Racing (#95, Ramzi Moutran / Nabil Moutran / Sami Moutran / Jules Westwood) completed the 911-Am podium, two laps further adrift. 

After several years away from the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook, Tsunami R.T. (#37, Andrii Kruglyk / Come Ledogar / Oleksandr Gaidai / Alessio Rovera) made a successful return to the series with its Porsche 991 Cup MR II, pulling a 21-lap gap over the MRS GT-Racing Porsche 991-II (#89, Helmut Rödig / Georg Bernsteiner / Altfrid Heger / Christopher Zöchling) in the process to take SPX category honours. Further back, the category pole sitting Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo (#10, Oliver Webb / Lim Keong Wee / Melvin Moh / Aleksander Schjerpen / Tadas Volbikas) secured the final spot on the category podium, just ahead of last year’s class winner’s GDL Racing Team Middle East.

The VDS Racing Adventures MARC Focus V8 (#58, Raphaël van der Straten / Karim Al Azari / Grégory Paisse / Wolfgang Haugg / José Close) got its SP2 title defence off to a good start with class victory ahead of the CCS Racing KTM X-BOW (#201, Charel Arendt / Holger Baumgartner / Tom Kieffer / Uwe Schmidt) and the Speed Lover Porsche 991-I (#78, Dominique Bastien / Jesus Diez / Carlos Rivas / Bob Wilwert), while the only other KTM X-BOW in the field – that of KTM MMotorsport Australia – suffered mechanical woes that ultimately dropped the #246 X-BOW to 5th in-class in-sight of the chequered flag.  
 
Phoenix Racing meanwhile secured a provisional GT4 1-2 finish with its pair of brand new Audi R8 LMS GTs, a strong result on the category’s 24H SERIES debut. The #248 entry (Philip Ellis / Joonas Lappalainen / Gosia Rdest / John-Louis Jasper) finished ahead of the #247 R8 LMS GT (Adderly Fong / Marchy Lee / Shaun Wei Fung Thong / Darryl O’Young / Charles Kwan) with both pulling away from BLACK FALCON Team TMD Friction Mercedes-AMG GT R SP-X (#264, Kevin Wing Kin Tse / Jonathan Hui / Antares Au / Frank Yu) throughout the night. 
 
The first ever endurance race for the McLaren 570S GT4 would come to an early end when the ALFAB Racing entry (#241, Erik Behrens / Daniel Ros / Fredrik Ros / Anders Lewin) would retire with turbocharger failure. The most high profile retirements of the 24H SERIES season opener, however, involved a collision between the Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#3, Khaled Al Qubaisi / Jeroen Bleekemolen / Luca Stolz / Manuel Metzger) and the Mercedes of reigning Teams’ and A6 champions Hofor-Racing )  (#1, Michael Kroll / Chantal Kroll / Roland Eggimann / Kenneth Heyer / Christiaan Frankenhout). The Black Falcon Mercedes had led 198 laps until that point and looked set for victory but a collision under braking meant both would retire on the spot. 

Liqui Moly Team Engstler opens 24H TCE season with first win

The Liqui Moly Team Engstler Volkswagen Golf GTi TCR (#130, Luca Engstler / Florian Thoma / Benjamin Leuchter / Jean Karl Vernay) meanwhile continued Germany’s domination of the Hankook 24H DUBAI by securing the team its first series victory at the Dubai Autodrome.
 
The German-based outfit ultimately finished ahead of the LMS Racing by Bas Koeten Racing SEAT Leon TCR (#129, Olli Kangas / Kari-Pekka Laaksonen / Antti Buri / Willem Meijer) and the Bonk Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS (#115, Hermann Bock / Max Partl / Rainer Partl / Volker Piepmeyer / Michael Bonk) in a TCR podium lockout that also saw three different manufacturers finish in the top three.

The dual Peugeot 308 Racing Cup entries of reigning TCR champions Team Altran Peugeot meanwhile would finish line-abreast two places further back, the #308 entry (Guillaume Roman / Olivier Baron / Michael Carlsen / Kim Holmgaard) leading the sister #908 (Lionel Amrouche / Cyril Calmon / Henrik Sørensen / Aram Martroussian) over the line.
 
Further back, the CWS Engineering Ginetta G55 (#178, Colin White / Jac Constable / Simon Murray / Bradley Liebenberg) would secure SP3 class victory, and would be the first of two entries from the British outfit to finish on the podium.

The second, #278 (Adam Hayes / Steven Wells / James May / Paul May) would finish 3rd in-class after a tumultuous race, while LAMERA-CUP (#238, Nicolas Beraud / Fabien Delaplace / Laurent Piguet / Stephane Pasquet) would split the pair in 2nd place. 24H TCE polesitters Century Motorsport (#229, Nathan Freke / Jon Barnes / Mark Farmer / Dominic Paul) would drop to 4th in-class after early mechanical issues.  

Further back in CUP1, Hofor-Racing powered by Bonk Motorsport (#131, Martin Kroll / Michael Schrey / Michael Fischer / Bernd Küpper / Gustav Engljähringer) would head an all-BMW M235i Racing Cup category podium ahead of Sorg Rennsport (#151, Stephan Epp / Fabian Danz / Kris Richard / Josh Caygill / Yannick Mettler) and QSR Racingschool (#154, Jimmy de Breucker / Mario Timmers / Rodrigue Gillion / Tom Boonen / Simon Klemund).
 
Propping up the field, the Ciceley Motorsport Renault Clio Cup IV (#162, Adam Morgan / Max Bird / Frank Bird / Jake Giddings) successfully completed its debut 24-hour endurance race with victory in the A2 class, just ahead of the 2017 A2 championship-winning Jönsson Consulting Peugeot RCZ (#171, Søren Jönsson / Lars Mogensen / Niels Nyboe / Christian Hansen / Kasper Bruun). Bouncing back from early collision damage, the second Ciceley Motorsport entry (#164, Max Coates / Harald Rettich / Adam Hatfield / Steffan Jusjong) completed the A2 podium.
 
One notable retirement from the 24H TCE SERIES powered by Hankook season opener in Dubai was the only Honda Civic TCR in the field, run by RKC/TGM Motorsport (#99, Ricky Coomber / Thomas Gannon / David Drinkwater / Umair Khan), which retired prematurely with a broken head gasket on its competitive world debut.

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