Hard racing and Code Sixties remained the order of the day in the second three hours of the 2013 Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai.
The lead changed twelve times in the first six hours, swapped between seven different cars. There were also six Code Sixties—Dubai’s version of caution periods—in the first six hours. The field spent 97 minutes
How teams managed pit strategy was extremely important: with drivers limited to two-hour stints, but the cars needing refueling after ninety minutes, coupled with the traffic jams at the fuel pumps during Code Sixties, made when teams pitted and what service they did paramount.
After five hours there had already been more Code Sixties than in the entire 2012 race; possibly the removal of the lap targets for the pro cars inspired more aggressive racing. Whatever caused them, there were a lot more accidents, which changed everyone’s strategies.
After six hours, an A6 Amateur car held the overall lead ahead of the favorites. Rolf Ineichen in the #20 Stadler Mortorsports Porsche 997 held a gap of a quarter-second over Dirk Müller in the #24 Saudi Falcons Team Schubert BMW Z4 GT3.
A moment after the hour, Müller took the overall lead; a lap later, Ineichen passed Müller to retake the lead. Despite being limited in overall speed, the Stadler driver kept finding a way to stay ahead.
A lap behind, Jeroen Bleekemolen in the #1 Abu Dhabi Mercedes SLS AMG, still hurting from missing the pits on the first Code Sixty and also form two penalties. Mika Salo in the #16 AF Corse Ferrari 458 was 30 seconds behind Bleekemolen. Behind Salo, Bleekemolen’s teammate Steve Jans was the last car only a lap down.
Accidents Affect Strategy
After four hours of racing the #17 Chopard McLaren collided with the #151 Perfection Racing Europe Aston Martin. The cars were able to get back to the pits without another Code Sixty.
The #69 Duwo Racing had lost a left front wheel earlier in the race; after four hours, 45 minutes it lost a right front, which bounced into the path of the #127 GT Academy Team RJN Nissan 370z, which had just taken the SP3 lead.
A few minutes later, the #151 Perfection Aston Martin crashed again, this time hitting the wall quite hard and bringing out another Code Sixty.
Again cars dove into the pits to refuel; this time some of them waited, hoping not to get caught up in the queues at the fuel pumps. Jeroen Bleekemolen in the #1 Black Falcon Mercedes waited a lap before coming in, and this time his strategy worked; he came out in third position, a lap behind Dirk Müller in the #24 Schubert BMW and Rolf Ineichen in the Stadler Motorsports Porsche.
Abu Dhabi Black Falcon’s second Mercedes SLS AMG, driven by Steve Jans, lay fourth. Fifth was Dominik Baumann in the second Saudi Falcons Team Schubert BMW.
The race restarted at a quarter past the hour, and almost immediately went back to Code Sixty, the sixth of the race, in response to an incident in Turn 14. This was cleaned up in a few minutes, and racing resumed.
Shortly after the second Code Sixty ended, the Ram Ferrari collided with the #12 Schubert BMW, sending both cars to the garage.
Rolf Ineichen, driving a Pro-Am car with a 2:05 lap limit, managed to stay ahead of BMW ace Dirk Müller in the #24 Schubert Z4; because of the traffic and the slickness of the circuit, Müller couldn’t run faster than the 2:05 limit.
Daryl O’Young worked the #15 Craft Racing AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3, the other of the cars which had dominated the race until the first Code Sixty, up into seventh place, where he hunted down Rob Barff in the Dragon Racing Ferrari 458. Eight minutes before the hour, O’Young managed to get past into sixth.
As the clock approached eight p.m., six hours of racing, Müller steadily cut the gap to Ineichen. The Stadler Porsche in the A6 Am gained a lot from not having to pit so often, so it had a good chance for an overall win if the Code Sixties fell at the right time.
Co-driver Marco Seefried told Radio LeMans that the team was only interested in winning the Am class, and wasn’t worried about the overall win; of course no one believed him.
The fight at the front was so absorbing, the other classes didn’t get much notice. Still, within each class, the competition was tough.
Seventeenth and eighteenth overall were the 997 and SP2 class leaders: Burkard Kaiser in the #44 Black Falcon Team TMD Friction Porsche 997 Cup and Tessitore in the #126 Bonk Motorsport Chevrolet Corvette C6.
Twenty-first overall and leading SP3 was the #148 Cor Euser Racing Lotus Evora GT4 driven by Trevor Knight.
Harry Hilders led the A5 class in 26th place in the JR motorsport BMW E46 GTR.
The Racing Divas, an all-female driving squad, led A3T, with Liesette Braams at the wheel of their BMW 320D in 29th overall.
In 44th, Josef Zaruba in the Vogtland Racing Mini R58 Coupe led A2.
Martin Kroll led A4 in the Kuepper Racing BMW E46 Coupe in 47th position.
In 53rd overall, Wubbe Herlaar in the SVDP Racing BMW 120D led D1.
All the action can be watched live online at 24hDubai.com.
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