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A lap time of 1m57.705s for Dutch driver Jeroen Bleekemolen secured pole position for the Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#2, Khaled Al Qubaisi/Jeroen Bleekemolen/Patrick Assenheimer/Manuel Metzger) in qualifying for the Hankook 24H Dubai.

“After our good performance in free practice, I was really confident already. The handling of the car was great and although I had some traffic in qualifying, it was enough to be on pole,” Bleekemolen commented.

It was his second pole for the Hankook 24H DUBAI after 2013. The fastest of the two GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghinis (#963, Mirko Bortolotti/Chrtistian Engelhart/Rik Breukers/Rolf Ineichen/Mark Ineichen) qualified second from the Herberth Motorsport Porsche (#911, Daniel Allemann/Ralf Bohn/Robert Renauer/Alfred Renauer/Brendon Hartley).

With the Optimum Motorsport Audi R8 LMS (#14, Joe Osborne/Flick Haigh/Ryan Ratcliffe/Christopher Haase) in fourth, four different brands will be represented on the first two rows of the grid for the race that will start tomorrow at 14.00 hrs local time.

Some ten minutes into the session, Jeroen Bleekemolen was the first driver to post a lap time under 1m58s and with that time, he remained on top of the time sheets. “It got pretty close in the end, because Mirko Bortolotti was quite quick with the Lamborghini. I went out for another attempt and I was faster, but then I had my time disallowed because there were said to be yellow flags, although they were gone by the time I got past. In the end, it didn’t matter anyway because my initial lap time was enough fir pole,” Bleekemolen said.

Fastest car in the A6-Am class was the IDEC Sport Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#17, Patrice Lafargue/Paul Lafargue/Nicolas Minassian/Alban Varutti) with a time of 2m02.268s set by Paul Lafargue, followed by the Belgian Audi Club WRT Audi (#5, Mohammed Bin Saud Al Saud/Mohammed Bin Faisal Al Saud/Marcel Fässler/Michael Vergers) and the V8 Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6-ZR1 (#18, Wolf Nathan/Rick Abresch/Luc Braams/Duncan Huisman/Alex van ‘t Hoff).

Arnaud Gomez claimed pole position in the SPX class with the Vortex V8 Vortex (#204, Lionel Amrouche/Cyril Calmon/Olivier Gomez/Arnaud Gomez), with the COOL Racing by GPC Motorsport Vortex (#24, Alexandre Coigny/Gino Forgione/David Iradj Alexander/Tom Dyer) second and the Eurotrac by Bas Koeten Dodge Viper (#19, Bert de Heus/Daniel de Jong/Ivo Breukers/Leon Rijnbeek) third.

Christopher Zöchling was fastest in the 991 class for a long time, but it was Klaus Bachler who eventually put the race:pro motorsport Porsche 911 Cup (#63, Stanislav Minsky/Murad Sultanov/Klaus Bachler/Carlos Rivas/Mark Wallenwein) on pole in class with a lap time of 2m03.556s. The fastest of the two MSG Motorsport cars (#92, Philipp Sager/Alex Autumn/Christopher Zöchling/Nico Rindlisbacher/Stephan Kuhs) ended up second with the Black Falcon TMD Friction Porsche (#69, Burkhard Kaiser/Sören Spreng/Miguel Toril/Bandar Alesayi) third.

Top SP2 car was the Bovi Motorsport Brokernet Silversting (#207, Wolfgang Kaufmann/Kalman Bodis/Jaap van Lagen/Heino Bo Fredriksen) with a time of 2m04.571s set by Van Lagen. The Vortex V8 GC Automobile (#203, Günther Deutsch/Marco Deutsch/Mathieu Pontais/Kurt Thiel) qualified second, followed by the Speed Lover Porsche 991 Cup (#78, Guy Verheyen/Pierre-Yves Paque/Jean-Michel Gerome/Pieder Decurtins/Richard Verburg).

British driver Mike Simpson secured pole position in the SP3-GT4 class with the CWS Ginetta G55 GT4 (#178, Colin White/Tom Hibbert/Mike Simopson/Brandon Gdovic). Simpson posted his time of 2m08.835s fairly early in the session and then remained on top. Jann Mardenborough was second fastest with the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan (#123, Jann Mardenborough/Ricardo Sanchez/Romain Sarazin/Johnny Guindi), followed by the Century Motorsport Ginetta (#229, Nathan Freke/Alden Moffat/Jack Mitchell/Ben Green) thanks to a last-gasp effort by Freke.

In TCR, Sebastiaan Bleekemolen was the early pace-setter with the Team Bleekemolen SEAT Leon TCR (#100, Sebastiaan Bleekemolen/Michael Bleekemolen/Dennis de Borst/Aart-Jan Ringelberg), but he eventually had to make do with second place in class as versatile Swiss racer Mathias Beche claimed class pole with the Modena Motorsports SEAT Leon TCR (#216, Wayne Shen/John Shen/Francis Tjia/Mathias Beche) with a time of 2m11.319s. Third place in class went to the brand-new Cadspeed Racing with Atech Audi RS3 LMS (#108, James Kaye/Julian Griffin/Erik Holstein/Finlay Hutchinson) on the endurance racing debut of the car.

CUP1 qualifying honours were taken by Oskar Sandberg in the Sorg Rennsport BMW (#151, Stephan Epp/Christian Andreas Franz/Michael Hollerweger/Heiko Eichenberg/Oskar Sandberg) with a time of 2m18.099s. The fastest of the two Bonk Motorsport cars (#146, Hermann Bock/Rainer Partl/Max Partl) was second, followed by the second Sorg Rennsport car (#152, Ahmed Al Melaihi/Jesus Diez/José Manuel de los Milagros/George Richardson/Shawn Peh).

Team Altran Peugeot locked out the first two positions in the A3 class, with Gonzalo Martin de Andres putting the number 908 Peugeot 308 (#908, Yusif Bassil/Thierry Boyer/Gonzalo Martin de Andres/Loïc Dupont) on pole with a time of 2m16.141s, followed by the sister car (#308, Guillaume Roman/Thierry Blaise/Kim Holmgaard/Michael Carlsen). The Cor Euser Racing BMW (#71, Sam Allpass/Richard Verburg/Cor Euser/Klaus-Dieter Frommer/Michael Nielsen) was third.

There were three different brands on the first three places in the A2 class, with the Team Eva Solo/K-Rejser Peugeot RCZ (#171, Jacob Kristensen/Jan Engelbrecht/Thomas Sørensen/Jens Mølgaard/Henrik Sørensen) claiming pole with 2m19.819s set by Kristensen. The Team Cooksport Renault Clio (#172, Alex Sedgwick/Shayne Deegan/Oliver Cook/Jonathan Maybin/Josh Cook) was second while local team Lap57 Motorsport had its Honda Integra DC5 (#570, Junichi Unemoto/Kouich Okumura/Teruhiko Hamano/Peter Jürgen/Ashan Silva) third.


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Race week action started early for this year’s Hankook 24H DUBAI, with prototype machinery out on track at Dubai Autodrome on Tuesday already for the inaugural Hankook 3x3H DUBAI.

A total of 17 prototypes from the G57, CN and P34 classes weres in action in two free practice sessions, one qualifying and the first encounter of this week’s triple-header of three-hour races. Victory in the first-ever prototype race organised by Dutch agency CREVENTIC in co-operation with the Dutch National Racing Team (DNRT) went to French team, Graff Racing, that saw drivers Eric Trouillet. Franck Matelli and Edward Lewis Brauner complete 79 laps with the Ligier JS P3. Dutch team, Kox Racing, made it a 1-2 for Ligier with its JS2 P3 driven by Peter Kox and Nico Pronk. Third place overall and victory in the G57 class went to Century Motorsport with Euan and Daniel McKay while the IDEC Sport Racing Team claimed a last-gasp CN class win with Frédérique Da Rocha, Nicolas Da Rocha, David Abramczik and Romain Vozniak in the Ligier JS53 Evo2.


“Finally seeing these prototypes racing here at Dubai Autodrome after a long time of preparation was a great experience,” CREVENTIC’s Ole Dörlemann comments. “We have had very positive feedback and support from many drivers and teams for our prototype initiative and this really whets the appetite for what is to come in our new 24H PROTO SERIES powered by Hankook this year!” Apart from GP2 and A1GP single-seater cars that raced at Dubai Autodrome some ten years ago, the prototypes are the fastest cars ever driven in competition around the 5.399 kilometres long circuit.


Bradley Ellis puts Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G57 on pole in qualifying


Having topped the time sheets in the first free practice sessions already, the Ginetta G57s were setting the pace in qualifying as well. Driving the #57 Graff entry (Lawrence Tomlinson/Mike Simpson/Jordan Sanders), Simpson posted a fast lap time of 1m51.194s early in the session that left him on top for a long time. In the final ten minutes, however, Bradley Ellis showed his speed by setting a time of 1m51.666 in the #54 Optimum Motorsport car (Adrian Barwick/Bradley Ellis/Kyle Masson/James French) and went one better on his next lap. That resulted into a time of 1m51.136s, enough for the Brit to claim pole position for the first three-hour race. Six overall behind a quintet of Ginettas, Peter Kox put his #48 Kox Racing Ligier JS P3 (Peter Kox/Nico Pronk) on pole in the P3 class, with the #45 Avelon Formula Wolf GB08 CN (Ivan Bellarosa/Guglielmo Belotti) emerging as the fastest CN car in the hands of Bellarosa.


Trouble-free run secures race win for Graff Racing Ligier


At 14.00 hrs local time, 16 prototypes got the first three-hour race underway with a rolling start as the #52 Simpson Motorsport Ginetta (James Wislow/John Corbett) joined the field from the pitlane. Out in front, there was a fierce battle in the first 30 minutes between Charlie Robertson in the #53 HHC Racing Ginetta and Bradley Ellis in the pole-winning #54 Optimum Motorsport Ginetta, but neither of these cars would make it to the finish.


On lap 17, there was the first of three code 60 neutralisations as the #45 Avelon Formula Wolf GB08CN retired from the lead in the CN class with Belotti behind the wheel. As the Ginettas had to make longer pit stops to make up for their performance advantage compared to the other prototypes in the field, the two P3 cars came to the fore and a close battle between Franck Matelli in the #12 Graff car and Peter Kox in the #48 Kox Racing entry brought the decision for victory. Following a late-race pair of code 60s, one after a retirement of the #82 Krafft Racing Norma (David Cristini/Max Bortolami/Régis Treff) from the lead of the CN class and the next one, only one minute after racing had resumed, to allow for the stranded #46 Avelon Formula Wolf (Amro Al-Hamad/Nick Adcock) to be removed, Kox was no longer in a position to mount a challenge. As a result, Matelli drove the #12 Ligier across the line to take the outright win and P3 honours for Graff Racing, with Kox finishing second overall. The McKays were third overall and first in G57 with their #51 Century Motorsport Ginetta 57, one lap ahead of the #55 CWS Ginetta (Colin White/Brandon Gdovic/Jason Coupal). The battle for the CN class win went down to the wire, with Romain Vozniak in the #17 IDEC Sport Racing LigierJS53 Evo 2 (Frédérique Da Rocha/Nicolas Da Rocha/David Abramczik/Romain Vozniak) overtaking the #85 Krafft Racing Norma M20FC (François Kirmann/Daniel Kirmann/Jean-Charles Perrin) on the final lap to take a class win in fifth place overall.

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Race teams from around the globe have flown into Dubai this week to prepare for the Hankook 24H Dubai (12-14 January), the first round of the 2017 24H Series powered by Hankook.

The race paddock at Dubai Autodrome is now full of containers and cars, with officials and pit crews bustling in preparation for the challenging twenty four hour endurance race featuring a variety of GT and Touring Car class vehicles as well as 24H specials.

Richard Birch, General Manager of Dubai Autodrome, said: “This week we have received 140 containers, 100 cars, 400 drivers and their crews to our venue.  We welcome all of our guests from around the world and we look forward with great anticipation for the start of this classic endurance race on Friday.”

Entry into the race paddock and grandstand at Dubai Autodrome will be free to visit for spectators, and in addition to the featured race there will be car displays, food and entertainment which will be available throughout the venue.

Gourmet food truck providers, Truckers DXB have moved into the Grandstand Village and will be serving up culinary delights starting at 8.00am on Thursday (12 January) when practice and qualifying for the Hankook 24H Dubai will commence.

The Dubai Autodrome Grandstand Village will also treat guests to a Tomini classic car collection, a kids play zone, Red Bull Freestyle Artists, an Adventure HQ climbing wall, a full selection of A&E adult beverages and LED screen with a live feed of the race.  At night the same area will feature a live band and DJ.

Festivities continue on Friday during the start grid at 12.45, giving spectators the opportunity to mingle with the drivers and teams before the race flags off at 14.00.  Up to 100 cars are expected to line up on grid and rumble in action on the 5.39 kilometre Grand Prix Circuit.

Last year’s race winner, Belgian Audi Club WRT, will be back with a pair of Audi R8 LMSs to defend its honour, and three-time 24H Dubai champ Black Falcon will also be in the mix, taking up the challenge with two Mercedes-AMG GT3s.

At 20.00 on Friday the night sky over Dubai Autodrome will light up with fireworks, right above the track action, which will run continuously until 14.00 on Saturday.

After the chequered flag is waved and the new winner crowned, the top drivers will participate in the renowned camel parade through the pit lane with the celebrations moving to the Grandstand Village for the 24H Dubai after-party.


Hankook 24H Dubai Event Schedule:


Thursday, 12 January 2017

08:00               Grandstand Village: F& B Opens

12:45 - 20:00   Hankook 24H Dubai Practice & Qualifying

20:30               Grandstand Village: Live Band & DJ


Friday, 13 January 2017

02:00               Grandstand Village: F& B Closes

08:00               Grandstand Village: F& B Opens

10:00 - 10:30   Hankook 24H Dubai Teams Practice

12:45 - 13:45   Hankook 24H Dubai Start Grid

14:00               Start of the Hankook 24H Dubai Race

14:00               Grandstand Village: Start of Live Race Feed

15:00               Grandstand Village: Red Bull Freestyle Artists

20:00               Fireworks


Saturday, 14 January 2017

02:00               Grandstand Village: F& B Closes

08:00               Grandstand Village: F& B Opens

14:00               Finish of the Hankook 24H Dubai Race

14:15               Camel parade and podium ceremony

15:00               Grandstand Village: Dubai 24H Dubai After-Party