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Black Falcon takes third overall win in 24H Dubai with Mercedes-Benz

By Staff

The number two Black Falcon Mercedes of Abdulaziz Al Faisal, Hubert Haupt, Yelmer Buurman and Oliver Webb scored its third outright win in the tenth edition of the the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai, held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Sports Council.

On Friday at 14.00 local time, Sheikh Juma al Maktoum and Dr. Mohammed Ben Sulayem president of the ATCUAE each waved a United Arab Emirates national flag to unleash the field of 89 cars.

In the season opener of the 2015 24H Series powered by Hankook, Saudi Arabian Abdulaziz Al Faisal, German Hubert Haupt, Dutchman Yelmer Buurman and Brit Oliver Webb completed 604 laps of the 5.39 kilometres long Dubai Autodrome with their Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3.

In 2012 and 2013, the Black Falcon team had also won the race in Dubai, then under the ‘Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon’ banner.

With three victories, Black Falcon is now the most successful team in history of the race. For Mercedes-Benz, it was the third race win in Dubai as well.

In total, there were twelve changes in the overall lead with four different cars taking turns in the lead.

Pole position winning Fach Auto Tech Porsche team took an early lead, but they were stalked by the Black Falcon team who remained at the sharp end of proceedings throughout the race.

They began to stamp their authority on the race by claiming the lead on lap 22 and thereafter spent long stints at the front taking the chequered flag with Yelmer Buurman behind the wheel.

“We had a trouble-free race, we didn’t have any contact with other cars and our car ran perfectly,” the Dutch driver said after his maiden victory in a 24-hour race.

“With so many cars on the track, you have to be careful to avoid collisions and you have to plan your overtaking moves. Our team made the right decision in making a pit stop during the first ‘code 60’ at an early stage in the race and that helped us get in front. Many thanks to everyone involved, this is a fantastic start of the season.”

Victory was particularly satisfying for Saudi Prince Al Faisal, who after nine attempts finally scored his first victory in the Dubai endurance race.

He said: "After nine years of trying to win this race at last I stood on the top step of the podium. A very sweet victory not only for me but the Black Falcon team and my teammates.

"Our team were strong all week long, maybe not the outright fastest but for sure the most consistent. We drove smart, kept out of trouble and because of this we won the race. It was tough with so many cars battling it out all day and night. Personally this victory ticks a very big box in my career."

UAE-based Dragon Racing Ferrari gave the home fans a lot cheer about when they cossed the line third overall, and thus doing enough to claim top spot in the hotly contested A6-Amateur Class with Mohammed Jawa, Jordan Grogor, Matt Griffin and Rob Barff sharing the driving.

Team boss Leon Price said of the achievement, "I am over the moon. The team was superb in all facets, the drivers delivered exactly what was expected of them. Despite a problem with the rear wheel which forced us to run the same tyre for four hours, there was no panic and we just stuck to the game plan."

It was also big celebrations in the Memac Ogilvy Duel Racing pit garage as Phil Quaife and the Moutran brothers Nabil, Ramzi and Sami claimed victory in the A3T Class in their SEAT, after a dominant performance throughout the 24 hours.

Ramzi Moutran said: "What a great feeling to win here in our home town Dubai, at our home circuit Dubai Autodrome. It was all down to a great team effort from mechanics, to drivers through to our entire support network. A real family affair that came good on a big stage. We are elated with the result."

On the other side of the coin it disappointment for the Abu Dhabi Racing Black Falcon Mercedes of Jeroen Bleekemolen, Bernd Schneider, Andreas Simonsen and local hero Khalid Al Qubaisi who took over the car for the third stint. He kept up the momentum in second place but bad luck struck on lap 88 when a slower car collided with the Mercedes.

In the pits the Black Falcon crew did everything possible to repair the Mercedes AMG SLS GT3, but the damage to the rear suspension and the chassis was too severe, thus the team decided to retire car number three.

Al Qubaisi explained: "I had an accident while overtaking. A car hit me on the right rear a couple of laps before our scheduled pitstop. Up until that point our times and performance was really great, the car showed winning potential, but this is motorsport sometimes you win and sometimes you lose."

"But on the other hand I am delighted for my 'brother' Abdulaziz (Al Fasial) who today won this race for the first time. For me this is even better than me winning, and erases the disappointment of the incident which affected us. I am very happy for him and the Black Falcon team," said Al Qubaisi.

The Lap57 Honda, with a strong line-up of UAE champions including Mohammed Al Owais, Abdullah Al Hammadi, Nader Zuhour, Rupesh Channake along with guest Japanese driver Junichi Umemoto were victims of technical gremlins which cost them valuable time in the pits, after leading and running strongly in Class A2. They nevertheless recovered to finish fourth in class.

Dubai based Zettanet Racing Team Honda team had a problem packed weekend, and were forced to retire early on in the race with engine issues.

Speaking at the end of the race Dubai Autodrome chairman Ali Al Fardan said, "This race was another epic duel at our race track, and a fitting episode for the tenth anniversary of this race in Dubai. A big congratulations to winners Black Falcon and applause to our UAE based teams Dragon Racing and Memac Ogilvy Duel Racing for their superb showing."

2015 Hankook 24H Dubai Top 10 results:

1.  Black Falcon 2 Mercedes SLS AMG GT3
2.  Ram Racing Mercedes SLS AMG GT3
3.  Dragon Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT3
4.  KPM Racing 1 Aston Martin Vantage GT3
5.  Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan GTR GT3
6.  Scuderia Praha Ferrari 458 Italia GT3
7.  Attempto Racing 2 Porsche 997 GT3 R
8.  Gulf Racing UK Lamborghini Gallardo LP560 GT3
9.  Black Falcon 4 Porsche 991 Cup
10. Black Falcon 3 Porsche 991 Cup