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Preliminary report on the 24h race in Dubai

At a turbulent ninth VLN race of the season BLACK FALCON brought home four cars and won class SP7. Tim Scheerbarth and Alex Toril resisted bad weather conditions and additionally set the fastest lap in their hard fought class.

Stefan Karg, Runar Vatne and Manuel Metzger faced a spectacular photofinish when their Porsche Cayman GT4 CS #943 crossed the line in position four of class CUP3. The trio also set the fastest lap of their class.

The still of the desert is about to be shattered by the sound of hundreds of thousands of horsepower unleashed around the Dubai Autodrome, and Team BLACK FALCON will be right in the thick of the action. 2017 will barely be two weeks old when Team BLACK FALCON decamp from their Nürburgring base to make their way to the United Arab Emirates and the 12th running of the Hankook 24 Hours Dubai endurance race. With the start of another year, another packed season of racing awaits. Team BLACK FALCON’s resolution is as strong as ever: this is a race that the team have always performed well at. They’ve won overall in three of the last five editions of the 24-hour race and finished second in 2016, whilst also claiming many strong finishes in multiple other classes over the years.

The round-the-clock race in Dubai has grown from an important regional event into the de facto start of the international endurance racing calendar. As the race has increased in stature, so an increasing number of high profile teams have signed up, and over the years we’ve seen many new cars make their debut in Dubai, such as with Team BLACK FALCON’s Mercedes-AMG GT3s last year. However, the influx of professional teams and drivers hasn’t dulled the enthusiasm of the semi-pro and amateur entrants, who still make up a significant portion of the grid and help contribute to making the Hankook 24 Hours Dubai such a great event.

The provisional entry list is already touching one hundred cars spread across 11 classes, from the high powered GT3s down to diesel saloons, so the race is guaranteed to be frantic with so many cars of different classes and almost 500 drivers of different experience taking part. Completing any 24-hour race is a huge challenge, but when you throw such a mixed grid into the mix it becomes even more difficult to complete – let alone win. But the track’s 5.39km, 19-turn rollercoaster layout offers everything a race driver loves, from flat-out blasts to highly technical sections, though with elevation changes hiding several apexes and braking points it means there’s rarely a chance to relax. Anything is possible in a 24-hour race, and it could be happening just over the next brow… Team BLACK FALCON’s entries will be in the top echelon A6 class. The team are entering a pair of GT3-specification, 6.2-litre Mercedes-AMG GT3s.

The driver squad for car #2 comprises local driver Khaled Al Qubaisi (United Arab Emirates), Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands), Patrick Assenheimer (Germany) and Manuel Metzger (Germany). The team’s second Mercedes, #3, will be crewed by Abdulaziz Al Faisal (Saudi Arabia), Hubert Haupt (Germany), Yelmer Buurman (Netherlands), Michal Broniszewski (Poland) and Maro Engel (Germany). Six of the nine drivers have previously stood on the top step in Dubai; Khaled and Jeroen have actually won twice together driving for Team BLACK FALCON, in 2012 and 2013, with one win each for Abdulaziz, Hubert and Yelmer in 2015.

This year three Porsches are competing under the BLACK FALCON TEAM TMD FRICTION banner, with a pair of Porsche 991 GT3 Cup machines in the 991 class alongside a Cayman GT4 in SP3-GT4. The Porsche 991 #68, will have Saud Al Faisal (Saudi Arabia), Anders Fjordbach (Denmark), Saeed Al Mouri (Saudi Arabia) and Alexander Toril (Spain) taking turns behind the wheel, whilst the sister car #69 features BurkardKaiser (Germany), Sören Spreng (Germany), Miguel Toril (Spain) and Bandar Alesayi (Saudi Arabia). Mustafa Mehmet Kaya (Turkey) and Gabriele Piana (Italy) will be sharing the #243 Cayman GT4 with VLN specialists Aurel Schoeller (Germany) and Fidel Leib (Germany).

There will be almost 30 GT3 cars competing for the top spot in Dubai, but winning an endurance race is about more than being fast: as Team BLACK FALCON’s impressive results show, you’ve got to be smart. Experience counts for a lot, and the dedicated team of mechanics and engineers will be working behind the scenes to provide their drivers with the best possible shot at victory.