Hankook 24H Dubai – Podium For Mikael Grenier In GT3 And Roman De Angelis In GT4
HARD FOUGHT RACE FOR THE SUNENERGY1 RACING TEAM AND GOOD FIRST OUTING FOR ST RACING BMW SQUAD
The Hankook 24H of Dubai is like a rolling the dice as its hard to know what the outcome is going to be with so many different categories of cars and performance on the track, the “code 60” neutralization and the fact that you have to drive to the gaz pump to refuel.
Strategy plays a big role but even the best pre-race preparation may be thrown out the window during the race. That is what happened with the SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 as they had to fight back form having slid to 30th place overall in the early stage of the race because of one of those “code 60”.
Coming in for refuelling during one of those “code 60”, the car showed up at the pump only to find out that the pump had broken down and the team had to bring the car to another pump… and wait for its availability as cars were queuing up for service.
They kept their head down and kept creeping up the standings. When you looked at the standings from the 12th hour onward, they were consistently shown in sixth or better overall. At the 18th hour, while occupying fourth place, the no. 77 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 running third at the time developed a mechanical issue that ended with the team having to retire the car.
This brought the no. 75 SunEnergy1 by SPS Autosport Performance up to third place but were still in the fight with the no. 4 Abu Dhabi Racing by HRT Mercedes AMG GT3. It all had to do with strategy at that point. In the late stage of the race, SunEnergy1 ran had to bring the car in for a front end repair.
Mikaël Grenier took the last relay of the race and finally cross the finish line 7.697s ahead of the no.4 Mercedes AMG that sealed their third place finish.
The GT3 class and overall winner, no.7 MS7 by WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 and second place no. 31 WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 proved to be untouchable throughout the race as they were ahead of the field from the very first relays of the race… thanks in part to a good strategy and “code 60”.
For a first outing with the new BMW M4 GT3, ST Racing had a very good showing. Their no. 1 Pro/Am car occupied 1st place in class for a while and maintained a top three position in class for a good part of the race. Unfortunately, they had received a two-laps penalty early in the race that would have been added at the end of the race. Nevertheless, drivers Samantha Tan/Harry Gottsacker/Bryson Morris/Anthony Lazzaro/Tyler Maxson made it through the 24 hours and even though they were classified fifth in class, it is a very good start for them.
The second ST Racing entry no. 28 in GT3 class of Nick Wittmwer/Louis-Philippe Montour/John Miller/Chandler Hull/Harry Gottsacker had a more difficult race as they had to bring the car in for repair. They ended their race ninth in class some 29 laps down.
Roman De Angelis with teammates Ian James, Alex Riberas and Gray Newell ended up second in the Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4. At the checkered flag, they were shown a lap down. But they fought back from being three laps down at one stage of the race. They kept to their own strategy and made it to the end.
Hankook 24H of Dubai results here.
The next race for the 24H Series is the Hankook 12H of Mugello on March 25-26. Of the Canadian present at Dubai, as of now, only ST Racing has committed to the season.
Main image: AMG Customer Racing / Gruppe C Photography