MUSCAT: Oman’s Al Faisal al Zubair teamed up with Austria’s Dominik Baumann and Martin Konrad, Germany’s Fabian Schiller and American racer Anthony Bartone Getspeed Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo for the 19th Hankook 24H Dubai at the Dubai Autodrome. While lying in second place after 15 hours of the race, fuel pump and transmission issues forced the team to retire the car.
Al Zubair said: “The weekend started off quite strong and we felt very positive with the car in testing. We led up to qualifying and a bronze (driver) had to qualify for the first session. It was open for the second two. Martin (Konrad) was slightly slower than the other bronzes in his qualifying, so when Dominik (Baumann) and Fabi (Schiller) did a great job, it was difficult to get the average down, so we started the race from P4 overall and P1 in the Pro class.
“Leading into the race, we had a great strategy and the car felt quite good. The Audis were fast but, I think with our strategy of having the pros drive the last six hours, we had an advantage in the pocket. But, unfortunately, with nine hours to go we got a fuel pump issue and a gearbox failure as well. We weren’t able to continue the race while running in P2. Honestly, we had a good chance for the win this year. That’s racing. This will make victory at a future Dubai 24 feel even better....”
Victory, after 603 laps, fell to the Eastalent Racing Team Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II, crewed by Christopher Haase, Simon Reicher, Markus Winkelhock, Mike Zhou and Gilles Magnus. Sven Muller brought the Proton Huber Competition Porsche 911 home in second place and Jack Barlow pushed the Century Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 on to the bottom step of the podium.
The Getspeed crew started the race strongly and led through the first hour mark after 29 laps. Al Zubair was in the hot seat in third behind the Proton Huber Competition and MRS GT-Racing Porsche 911s with the race approaching the two-hour mark. The Omani then pitted for fuel and slipped to fourth.
The team climbed to second place behind the Eastalent Racing Audi after four hours and ran in third for the next two hours.
After seven hours, and with Schiller at the wheel, the Getspeed car was running in fifth place behind the three Eastalent Racing, HAAS RT and Attempto Racing Audis and the Herberth Motorsport Porsche. The car moved up to second place behind the eventual winners after nine hours and held that position for three hours before slipping back to third. But they had regained second place at the 14-hour mark.
Sadly, the dream of winning the race ended when Baumann suffered technical issues and was forced to pit the Getspeed Mercedes after 360 laps.
The crew finished fourth in the first official practice session on Friday morning with a best run of 1min 59.990sec in a stint won by the Manamauri Energy by Ebimotors Porsche 911 GT3 R with a lap of 1min 58.940sec. The Proton Huber Competition Porsche came home second ahead of Grove Racing’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.
The Getspeed car was placed sixth in the first of three qualifying sessions and a best lap of 2min 00.559sec with Konrad at the wheel. The Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini claimed the early bragging rights from the HAAS RT Audi and Audi.
Baumann took the wheel in Q2 and finished the five-lap stint in fourth position with a best run of 1min 59.630sec. The Sainteloc Junior Team, Leipert Motorsport and the Dragon Racing Ferrari secured the top three times.
The Getspeed crew achieved a similar position in Q3 with Schiller carding a best tour of 1min 59.893sec in a stint won by the Dragon Racing Ferrari from the HAAS RT Audi and the Eastalent Racing Team Audi.