(Motorsport-Total.com) – The Belgian W Racing team had great success with the BMW M4 GT3 right from the start: At the 24 Hours of Dubai, the WRT finished first and third with the new machine in first gear. (Result 24 hours Dubai 2023)
WRT defended its Dubai 24 Hours title with a brand new title
Mohammed Saud Fahd Al Saud, Diego Menchaca, Jean-Baptiste Seminauer, Jens Klingmann and Dries Vanthoor won in the WRT-BMW #7. Saud Fahd Al Saud and Vanthoor defended the title at the start of the 24 Hour Series, as does WRT. However, in 2022 they won the Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo.
For BMW, this is the fourth victory in the Dubai 24 Hours race. But it’s the first since the 2011 edition, when racing switched to GT3 regulations. At the time, Schubert Motorsport won the BMW Z4 GT3. Duller Motorsport was responsible for the other two early days of racing victories in 2006 and 2007.
#7, considered one of the biggest favorites to win from the start, went after A.J Dramatic initial stage To the top, where, among other things, the two Mercedes-AMG GT3 cars retired from the main racing team.
Herberth fights to the end
But it was anything but “smooth sailing,” because the Herberth-Porsche #91 (Bohn/Allemann/R. Renauer/A. Renauer) used the night to reduce the gap from one lap to under a minute. Depending on the pit stop, the black Porsche held the lead for a short time.
Rain Heights 24 Hours Dubai 2023
The best 24-hour scenes in Dubai, the beginning of the 24-hour series 2023
As always in the 24 Hours series, it was important to use Code 60 phases correctly in Dubai. Under Code 60, you can stop, but only get half a tank of fuel back. Depending on the situation, a stop under “Pink” might be worth it. A bit of rain Sunday morning also caused a short spell, forcing some vehicles to swerve.
Herberth delivered a solid race to the WRT and proved a worthy opponent. This is even more impressive given the fact that the Porsche 911 GT3 R (991.2 since racing is still racing GT3 cars as of 2022) was a Pro-Am car. So the buffs had to sit in the car instead of one.
Herberth pulled out all the stops and even “short-fueled” the last hour to get in front of the BMW. The still due last leg had already been completed under the hoped-for 60 code, but the ten-second lead was, of course, not enough to defend it.
Rossi-BMW on the podium after the initial drama
In the end, 21.761 seconds made the difference. Herberth narrowly missed out on a second win after 2017, which was also achieved with Ralf Bonn, Daniel Allemann and twin brothers Robert and Alfred Reynauer. Brendon Hartley was the fifth driver in the car at the time. Of course you can take the class win with you in the Pro-Am class.
Third place was taken by the second BMW, the car around motorcycling legend Valentino Rossi. The #46 WRT-BMW (Whale/Rossi/Gelael/Hesse/Martin) had a shock moment in the early stages when Timothy Whale slid on an oil slick after two and a half hours and hit the tire wall. It stayed with minor floor damage.
After this very lucky scene, BMW had a trouble-free race and was already well on its way to a podium finish after Q1. Since then, the quintet didn’t make any mistakes anymore and came home third.
There was a fierce battle between the #10 Porsche EBM (Bamber/S. Grove/de Pasquale/B. Grove) and the #21 Haas RT Audi (Soulet/Detry/Bertels/Mazatis/Vervisch). A Porsche registered as “Grove Racing” prevailed in a duel between Anton Di Pasquale and Frederic Wervish in the penultimate hour. A puncture in the middle of the race cost the Haas RT Audi a lot of time.
In sixth place overall, the #92 Herberth-Porsche (Hart/Skeer/Adelson/Lucas) rounded out Herberth Motorsport’s second place in the Pro-Am class. Behind them was the #32 GP Elite Porsche (Groeneveld/J. van Kuijk/D. van Kuijk/Vermeulen). This was the second start of the Porsche 911 GT3R of the GB Elite Team Porsche Cup after the 12 Hours of Kuwait.
The top 10 was completed by the SPS-Mercedes #27 (James/Newell/de Angelis/Gunn) ranked third in the Pro-Am class, CP-Mercedes #85 (Putman/Espenlaub/Foster/Lewis/Quaife) class winner Am and Phoenix-Audi #1 (Doppelmayr/Kaffer/Erhart/Jöns), which lost ten laps in the early stages due to a pit stop repair.
The drama was shown early
The race was relatively steady for 18 hours after things really got going in the early stages. HRT Mercedes #4 (Main / Al Qubaisi / Baud / Junon / Stolz) delivered the most exciting farewell. Sebastian Budd was involved in a fire accident five hours later. So far, there is no statement from the team on whether the accident was caused by communication or a technical defect.
Things got worse for the Haupt Racing Team, which started the race as one of the favourites: Less than an hour after Baud’s accident, the HRT-Mercedes #777 (Stolz/Jefferies/Schiller/Konrad) crashed out of the race with a defect. The HRT was able to pack up after six hours.
At that point, Tresor by Attempto Racing was still trying to move Attempto-Audi #99 (Aka/Hutchison/Mukovoz/Pereira) again, which had already been brought up after three and a half hours. Another long overhaul of the Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II followed, but after a long time it was left alone.
As the next favourite, Herberth Porsche #911 (Müller/Malichin/Sturm/King) had to bury its hopes after seven hours. Porsche, which started under the name “Pure Rxcing”, had to struggle with steering. The pit stop cost about 40 laps.
Worse fared was Sainteloc-Audi #26 (Kelders/Gachet/Bastard/Doquin/Demoustier), which traded as a secret favourite. I lost ten laps early in the race. The ride finally ended after nearly ten hours when Erwan Bastard was pushed into a wall by a spinning Porsche and crashed over a curb.
The Dubai 24 Hours was the start of the 2023 24 Hours series. Some teams will remain in Arabia and will compete in 6-hour races in Abu Dhabi next weekend. Dubai and Abu Dhabi are also venues for the Asian Le Mans Series, which will hold four four-hour races in the Gulf from February 11-19.
Other winners of the 24 Hours Dubai 2023 category:
992: Fach-Auto-Tech-Porsche #962 (Schwarzer/Rindone/ten Voorde/Hoffsümmer/van Eijndhoven)
GT4: Dragon-Mercedes #408 (R. Goethe / O. Goethe / B. Goethe / Hall / Grogor)
GTX: Razoon-KTM #714 (Drexel/Pichler/Rosenberger/Bau/Kirchmayr)
TCR: AC-Audi #188 (Perrin/Mettler/Born/Dejonghe)