Tag Archives: Dubai 24H

Heat and Dust

The first endurance race of the 2013 season took place last week in Dubai. With a huge entry of good quality it can certainly be counted as a success. Our Special Correspondent was out in the Emirates, here are some of his reflections on the event. 

Reflections on the Dubai 24 Hours

The Dubai 24 Hours for GT, Touring cars and 24H Specials is a wonderful race. Entry for the public is free, yes free, with free use of the grandstands, free entry to the paddock and a generous grid walkabout before the start. The rest of the world, take note! Being run in mid-January, the race provides an ideal opportunity for manufacturers and teams to try out new cars, new parts etc., with adequate time to make changes and modifications before the start of the full international season.

Two years ago the Mercédès-Benz SLS made its 24 hour début at Dubai with a team of three factory-supported cars – the SLS has won the race ever since. And there is none of that confused safety-car nonsense in this race – whenever there is an incident requiring the cars to slow right down, the marshals wave the purple Code 60 flags and every car is compelled to slow down immediately to a maximum of 60 kph on pain of stiff penalties; it does not pay to disobey! Thus the relative intervals between the cars are maintained and drivers who have built up a lead over their rivals don’t lose it as is so often the case with the safety-car system. Code 60 works a treat and is much fairer for everyone. The rest of the world, take note! The weather for the race is invariably pleasantly warm and there is almost a guarantee of no rain; some sand blown onto the track sometimes but that’s racing. And 81 cars started this year’s race, with a variety of classes and sizes, just as endurance racing should be. The circuit is 5.39 km long with two 1 km straights, quite able to accommodate the different performances of the cars. Below are some of the cars which caught my particular interest:

2013 Dubai 24

This is the new VDS GT 001-R from Belgium, making its race début. It is said that Tony Gillet influenced the chassis design and, like the final racing version of the Gillet Vertigo, this car also uses the 4.2 litre Maserati V8 engine (built by Ferrari). It not surprisingly for such a new car encountered all sorts of problems during the twenty-four hours but was still running at the end, albeit way down the field.

2013 Dubai 24 The Jones brothers, former British GT Champions, came to the Dubai race for the first time, enabling their three sons to share their Mercédès SLS AMG GT3 with them. The family finished a creditable fifth overall and second in their class. Totally unforeseen was their influence on the final outcome of the race. The Black Falcon team had their number one entry seriously damaged in a testing accident on the Wednesday and the Jones brothers made their spare car available to them. This was to entail much hurried work because the spare car was set up in sprint mode and needed to be adapted to undertake an endurance event. The Black Falcon team stripped the car right down and transferred their engine and transmission etc. to the replacement car, a major undertaking with practice on the Thursday and the race at 2pm on the Friday. Here is the “interim” car in practice where it took an astonishing pole position:

2013 Dubai 24

The full conversion was ready for the start and history records that this car went on to win the race outright;

2013 Dubai 24

here it is cresting the brow at Turn 15 with a typical Dubai backdrop.

2013 Dubai 24

The field included several “tiddlers”, especially Clios and Minis but this little Citroën C2 was going particularly well in the early stages – alas, it did not reach the finish.

2013 Dubai 24

Nissan made a big effort with a team of two 370Zs in the GT4 (SP3) class. This one fell back after an off-course excursion but its team-mate took 2nd in the class.

2013 Dubai 24

Picture DB3  Two of the 24 Hour Specials. They are GC Automobile GC10 models which hail from Pézenas to the west of Montpellier in the south of France. No. 131 has a 6.2 V8, the other a 3.5 V6.

2013 Dubai 24

It gave me great pleasure to see this Lotus Evora GT win the GT4 class. Evoras have been quietly notching up such successes in the last two seasons or so in GT races.

2013 Dubai 24

The battle-scarred Aston Martin Vantage GT4 run by the Barwell Team on its way to fourth in the class. This is an example of a car that was trying out some new parts.

2013 Dubai 24

Picture DB3  Ferrari has never won this increasingly significant race but this AF Corse 458 Italia came very close to doing so.

2013 Dubai 24

Picture DB3  It is a charming tradition in the Dubai 24 Hours that one of the drivers from each of the first three finishing cars is brought to the podium on a camel. Here they are arriving prior to receiving their awards.

This was the eighth running of this race and it is good to see how it is growing in status. It attracts both very professional teams and drivers and the atmosphere reminds me of Goodwood in the Fifties when there were no petty restrictions! And as a privileged member of the media I have to say that the hospitality extended to us is second to none. The rest of the world, take note!

David Blumlein, January 2013

Sands of Time – Uno


For the past five years the Motosports’ world has been kick-started into life each January by the Dubai 24 Hours. The event has grown in scale and stature with the organisers taking good care of their customers, that is evident by the 84 cars that took the flag this year to commence the long pound round in the sand.

For those of us from the UK, we must be doubly thankful that attendance of the race in the United Arab Emirates gives us the perfect excuse to miss the Autosport Show held at the ghastly NEC. That alone is worth the price of the flight.

All the Sizes, All the Colours

The Dutch organisers, Creventic, have taken full advantage of the popularity and accessability of the GT3 and GT4 classes. They have also learned from the VLN and Nurburgring 24 Hours to try and accommodate a mix of GT and Touring cars. Some are factory efforts in all but name while many are genuine privateer teams who show great resourcefulness in taking on that most challenging of motorsport tasks, racing non-stop  for 24 hours.

Dutch and German Silver Arrows

Creventic have also been assisted in their mission by Grand-Am taking the Daytona 24 Hours on a different route from the rest of the endurance world. Right now the GT2-3-4 cars do not comply with Grand-Am rules and therefore cannot race at the Rolex, though Grand-Am’s management are having a good look at that issue. They may be too late. The traditional trip to Florida in January from Europe has largely become a thing of the past for racers. The delights of travelling to and from the USA as a Non-Citizen are not to be discounted either. Customers will vote with their feet.

Container Line

The containers were lined up behind the pits, disgorged of their contents. The mechanics twirled their spanners, the fitters from Dunlop inflated the tyres and we were all ready to go racing.

Three Stooges?

All, except one team. Lotus had been straining to finish their GT4 Evora, so planned to fly it out to the Middle East on the Monday night. They must have booked CrapAir as the precious cargo was unloaded from the aeroplane before take off, leaving the Anglo-Italian driver line up twiddling their thumbs. Here Johnny Mowlem and the Mansell brothers head back to Jumeira Beach.

Flat Out

Then the news from DXB was better, the car was in the UAE and once the Customs formalities had been observed the car arrived at the track.  The bad news was that it was Thursday evening by this time, with the event starting on Friday afternoon. A few laps in the Warm Up for JM and Stefano D’Aste were the sum of the running for this new car. Now for a 24 Hour race.

Lotus Position

The view for Johnny at the start was some 83 other cars between him and the front. He described the scene in a piece on the authoritative sportscar and endurance racing website DailySportsCar

“So for the race itself I was right at the back of the grid – and it was a BIG grid.  The rules say that you can’t overtake before you pass the start line and I reckon I was at least 6 corners from there when I got the call that the race had started – The race leaders must have been at least two thirds of a lap ahead by the time I had actually gone over the start finish line!”


Rub of the Green

“That said, the car was excellent and I could make pretty good progress – the rules dictate that you have to pit for a driver change every 2 hours but by an hour and a half I’d managed to get by the Aston Martin of Hancock, Kane, Masaood and Kapadia to take the class lead. We then pitted 20 minutes later from 30th place –  so 55 cars passed in a stint – that’s probably a record for me, but to be honest the car was so good it made my job very easy!”


Podium Celebrations

It was a mega-stint by any standards and set the tone for the whole race. Three driveshaft failures caused by an exhaust manifold overheating a CV joint delayed the Evora but getting a podium in the competitive SP3 class was a fantastic result and just reward for all the hard work. It was the best possible advert for the GT4 Lotus.

More from Dubai tomorrow.

John Brooks, January 2011

The Road Less Travelled

A week ago I was on my way home from The Emirates where I had been covering the Dubai 24 Hours.

The Dubai circuit is quite restricted in terms of access as there is 12 foot debris fencing around most of the track. This makes panning and any kind of motion shot difficult.

Flat in Sixth

So this image of the BMW Z4 is pleasing, the cars in the background are on their way down the E311 or Emirates Road which used to have the reputation of being something of a racetrack itself.

More from Dubai this week.

John Brooks, January 2011