With two hours to go, the #1 Abu Dhabi Black Falcon Mercedes rolled on seemingly unstoppable towards a repeat of its 2012 victory in the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai.
Other teams had fast cars. Other teams had fast drivers. Other teams got lucky breaks. But only the Abu Dhabi Black Falcon Mercedes had all these things working well all day and all night long.
The team didn’t have good luck throughout the weekend: team owner Abdulaziz AlFaisal totaled the car in an early practice session. The car could not be rebuilt.
The team had to buy a spare chassis from a competitor and the team’s mechanics had to work non-stop for three days to get the new chassis ready and to keep it running through 24 hours.
But even there, the luck was immense. Not only did the team find someone willing to sell a car which could be converted into an endurance racer, the team was able to salvage enough from the wrecked car to make the new car function.
Things went almost perfectly throughout the race. Aside from getting caught out by the first Code Sixty and losing two laps (which the other leaders also lost,) and getting a pair of penalties right afterwards, the team was able to run nonstop until the car was back up front.
The Mercedes needed less maintenance than its competitors. While the Saudi Falcon Schubert BMW had to sacrifice two lpas to change brake pads and discs, the Mercedes only needs pads, which cost only half a lap.
The Schubert BMW ultimately succumbed to an oil pump failure, the same thing which sidelined the car in 2012. The Black Falcon Mercedes simply rolled on, just like it did in 2012.
Other teams had less luck. The #17 Lapidus McLaren suffered from a damaged hub all night before finally losing a wheel in the final three hours, requiring a replacement of the hub.
This caused the fourteenth Code Sixty, during which the #8 A6 Am Fach Auto Tech Porsche 997 GT3 R—the A6 Am leader—got a stop +20 penalty for too many workers at the fuel pump.
This was a lucky break for the Craft Racing AMR Aston, which was hunting down the F.A.T. Porsche, intent on taking a podium place.
The #17 JLOC Lamborghini spent almost eighteen minutes in the pits, dropping from fourth to sixth.
About two dozen cars either retired, or all but gave up and worked slowly to get a damaged car back for a few final laps, knowing their cars were far out of the running.
With two hours left—the remaining race was two-thirds as long as an American Le Mans Series race, as long as a complete Formula One race.
In 22 hours, nine different cars held the lead, with 28 lead changes. Despite the race being 90 percent over, it was much too soon to try to call it. Anything could happen.
Watch the final two hours Dubai 24 live online at 24hDubai.com
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