“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.
Trouble-free run secures race 1 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.
After this evening’s night practice from 18.00 till 19.30 hrs, there are two further prototype races tomorrow, the first one from 9.00 till 12.00 hrs and the second one from 16.00 till 19.00 hrs (all times local in the UAE). Live streaming and live timing can be found on the website: www.24hseries.com.
Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G57 wins race two
An early pace-setter in yesterday’s first race, only to retire early, the Optimum Motorsport Ginetta G57 (#54, Adrian Barwick/Bradley Ellis/Kyle Masson/James French) finally came good in the second race. In the presence of Dr. Mohammed Bin Sulayem, FIA vice president and president of the Automobile and Touring Club for the UAE (ATCUAE), Bradley Ellis drove the closed-top prototype across the finish line at the end of the three-hour race to claim the outright win and G57 class honours. In spite of a drive-through penalty early in the race following a pit lane exit infringement, Ellis and his team-mates racked up a total of 82 laps. At the flag, the Ginetta team was 28.629 seconds clear of the Kox Racing Ligier JS P3 (#48, Peter Kox/Nico Pronk). Like in yesterday’s race, the Kox Racing team finished second overall, but this time, the outfit came out on top in the P3 class. Third place overall went to another Ginetta team, CWS (#55, Colin White/Brandon Gdovic/Jason Coupal).
CN class honours went to the #85 Krafft Racing Norma M20 FC (François Kirmann/Daniel Kirmann/Jean-Charles Perrin), that finished fifth overall after even having led the race outright for a total of 20 laps. The race saw three code 60 neutralisations. The first one was called a little over one hour following the retirement of the #46 Avelon Formula Wolf GB08 CN (Amro Al Hamad/Nick Adcock/Ivan Bellarosa/Guglielmo Belotti). At the end of the second hour, there were two neutralisations quickly after each other, the first one after the #56 Atech-DXB Ginetta G57 (Julian Griffin/Oliver Smith/Rik Breukers) had spun on the main straight and got stuck on track and the second one to allow for the #51 Century Motorsport Ginetta (Euan McKay/Daniel McKay) to be recovered.
Graff Racing makes it two out of three
Ginetta G57s dominated proceedings out in front for the first half of the race, with the Optimum Motorsport (#54, Adrian Barwick/Bradley Ellis/Kyle Masson/James French), Simpson Motorsport (#50, Philippe Haezebrouk/Bessam Kronfli) and Graff (#57, Lawrence Tomlinson/Mike Simpson/Jordan Sanders) entries all taking turns in the lead. In the second half of the race, the Graff Racing Ligier JS P3 (#12, Eric Trouillet/Franck Matelli/Edward Lewis Brauner) and the Century Motorsports Ginetta (#51, Euan McKay/Daniel McKay) emerged as the main contenders. A charging Peter Kox moved the Kox Racing Ligier (#48, Peter Kox/Nico Pronk) up into second place in the final 15 minutes ahead of the Century Ginetta, but in spite of consistently posting faster lap times than Matelli in the Graff Ligier, there was too little time left for Kox to mount a challenge. Thus, Graff Racing scored its second win of the event, with Kox Racing completing the 1-2 for Ligier, 54.810 seconds down on the winners. Eventually, it was the Graff Ginetta (#57, Lawrence Tomlinson/Mike Simpson/Jordan Sanders) that came out on top in the G57 class and in third overall to complete the success for the French team.
The only code 60 neutralisation came seven minutes into the race due to a collision by the GDL Racing Team Asia Radical SR3 RSX (#80, Lim Keong Liam/Nigel Farmer/Bruce Lee) and the Krafft Racing Norma M20 FC (#85, François Kirmann/Daniel Kirmann/Jean-Charles Perrin). Both cars retired, which considerably reduced the CN class. There was further CN heartbreak when the Avelon Formula Wolf GB08 CN (#46, Amro Al Hamad/Nick Adcock/Ivan Bellarosa/Guglielmo Belotti) retired from the class lead with a technical issue. That handed the class lead to locally-based team AUH Motorsports with its Radical SR3 RSX (#81, Konstantin Gukkaev/Tarek Elgammal) that crowned a strong performance throughout the event with three podium finishes from as many races with a popular class win. IDEC Sport Racing’s Ligier JS53 Evo2 (#17, Frédérique Da Rocha/Nicolas Da Rocha/David Abramczik/Roman Vozniak) ended up second in class.