After 15 hours of racing at the Dubai Autodrome, 2012 winner #1 Abu Dhabi Black Falcon Mercedes SLS, currently being driven by Jeroen Bleekemolen, had a ten second lead over the only other car which was on the lead lap.
That car, the #16 AF Corse Ferrari 458 driven by Mika Salo, seemed not to have any advantage over the Mercedes: both cars got comparable mileage, good tire wear (AF Corse was double-stinting, and the Mercedes crew had made some adjustments to fix its extreme wear problem.) Both cars were quick and both cars had strong driving crews.
The Mercedes seemed to have one slight edge: Jeroen Bleekemolen. The Dutch driver seemed to be the quickest and most consistent, if only by a tiny margin, but over 24 hours, tiny advantages add up.
Third overall and in the A6 Pro class was Jörg Müller in the Saudi Falcons Team Schubert BMW Z4 GT3;. This car had led for a while, lost a lap on the first Code Sixty, made up the gap and took the lead again, and then lost it again changing the brakes. With Jörg and Dirk Müller and Claudia Hürtgen, this car had a really high-powered driving team, but (as happened last year) the car seems to eat brakes.
The crew changed all pads and front discs after ten hours; will it need another change? Can it last fourteen hours? The crew did the swap in 4:15, but that’s two laps; the car cannot afford to give up two lap chunks of track position in a race this competitive.
It took the Schubert BMW five hours to make up one of its lost lap. The race won’t be long enough to do it again.
Andreas Simonsen in the second Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon Mercedes ran fourth, two laps down.
In fifth came the A6-Am leader, Martin Ragginger in the #8 Fach Auto Tech Porsche 997 GT3 R, six laps off the lead.
With Tim Mullen in the Lapidus Racing McLaren MP4-12C GT3 in sixth, Hideki Yamauchi in the JLOC Lamborghini Gallardo LP600+ in seventh, and Darren Turner in the Craft Racing AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3 in eighth, seven different manufacturers were represented in the top eight cars. Obviously the race organizers have managed the Balance of Performance.
J.J.Verheul in the #98 Equipe Verschuur Renault Megane Trophy in 14th led the SP2 class by four laps over the Bonk Motorsport Corvette.
Shane Lewis in the Cor Euser Racing Lotus Evora GT4 had a healthy six-lap lead over Emin Akata in the #141 Bonk Motorsport 1 BMW M3 GT4 in SP3. Lewis ran 17th overall, Akata 21st.
The #41 Porsche of Crubile Sport, driven by Mr. John of B (an alias, perhaps?) in 18th led the 997 class by four laps over the Motorsport Services/STR Porsche 997 Cup driven by Clint Harvey in 19th.
Pieter van Soelen in the #63 JR motorsport BMW E46 GTR led the A5 class by ten laps.
A2 was held securely Martin Tschornia in the #102 Besaplast Racing Mini Cooper S. Tschornia in 34th overall had an 11-lap lead.
The Racing Divas were also secure in A3T, leading the class by 67 laps.
Red Camel-Jordans.nl retained the D1 lead—driver Klaus Kresnik in the #116 Seat Leon 2.0 Tdi held a three-lap cushion over Wubbe Herlaar in the SVDP Racing BMW 120D.
Finally Bernd Kuepper in the #62 Kuepper Racing BMW E46 Coupe led A4 by 26 laps.
One more important point: the race went three hours without a Code Sixty, the londgest stretch of the 2013 event.
Watch the Dubai 24 live online at 24hDubai.com.
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