French Imsa Porsche Team Win 24H Dubai

DUBAI - The French Imsa Performance Matmut Porsche made a memorable debut at the Dubai Autodrome when they led from pole position to win the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai race on Saturday.

By Allaam Ousman

Published: Sun 17 Jan 2010, 11:53 AM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:48 AM

Raymond Narac, Patrick Pilet and Marco Holzer took the chequered flag at 2pm in the fifth edition of the race held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council.

The winning team only briefly lost the lead in the early stages of the race during the pit stops. However, the strategy by the team was such that they were able to consolidate their lead during the night and from then on controlled the race, completing 608 laps of the Dubai Autodrome Grand Prix circuit configuration. They were also Class A6 winners.

Austrian Holzer who drove the car across the finish line to take the chequered flag said afterwards: “This is a fantastic win for our team on our first attempt here at Dubai Autodrome. It was a great feeling to drive over the finish line.”

Pilet, who set fastest lap during qualifying, revealed they drove most of the race with small problems in the left rear suspension. “During my first drive, a Clio touched me on rear left. So we did not push too hard,” said Pilet who has experience of Le Mans races.

Although it was virtually a lights to flag victory for the Imsa Mamut team they were pushed hard throughout by the two BMWs of Japanese team Petronas Syntium Team and Saudi Arabian entry Al Faisal Racing. Both teams gave relentless pursuit throughout the 24 hours but the Petronas Syntium Team had to settle for second place overall, a mere three laps behind the leaders. They were Class A5 winners.

Al Faisal Racing, who finished second last year, again showed strongly throughout the race but could only manage third place overall despite a valiant effort by the drivers in the final hours. “We are happy with the performance because of all problems we faced at beginning of race. We are the only first team which went on the podium to have two flat tyres in the first seven hours,” said team manager Jo Otayek. In addition they lost Khaled Al Faisal who got a recurrence of a previous rib injury. “All the pressure came on Prince Abdul Aziz Al Faisal and Claudia (Hurtgen),” he said.

There was joy for UAE based teams contesting the race, notably the AUH Motorsports Aston Martin 2 with Emirati driver Humaid Al Masaood, Michael Prophet, Eric Charles and Alex Kapadia powering to victory in the tightly contested SP3 Class. Team principal Carl Roalston was delighted with the team’s class win in their first ever 24 hours endurance race. “This is a fantastic moment for our team to win here on home turf in the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai is a dream come true. Our drivers put in a great show and the team was superb throughout a stressful event for everyone. Being on the top of the podium is reward for hard work and a big boost for UAE motorsport.”

Also impressing in their debut in the 24 Hours of Dubai were locally based Duel Racing Team who drove their Renault Clio to second place in the Class A2 with their drivers the Moutran brothers Sami, Ramzi and Nabil along with Bahraini Shaikh Salman bin Rashid Al Khalifa. They chased eventual winners Team Sally Racing Renault Clio throughout the 24 hours but fell short by 11 laps by the time the chequered flag fell to end the race. There was heartbreak for last year’s winners of the SP3 Class, as Dubai based DXB Racing Aston Martin who looked set to repeat the feat until mechanical problems intervened to finish fourth in class.

“We were leading for most of the race. Unfortunately we had drive shaft failure with three hours to go. So we went from four laps in the lead to five laps behind. We were the front runners and had high expectations to win overall. But we were bit unfortunate because of some mechanical gremlins,” said their team principal Jonathan Simmonds.

Also succumbing to mechanical gremlins was the Al Qasba Team Lap 57 UAE Team Honda Civic. They were forced to change gearboxes twice during the course of the race, but despite this managed to make it to the end which in itself was a victory for the teams who crossed the finish line after 24 hours. “Our aim in this race was to get podium. We saw it coming. We felt we could get it. Unfortunately our choice of car was not very good,” said Omran Al Owais.

Dubai Autodrome Chairman Saeed Khalfan said at the end: “Once again the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai was a fantastic race and my congratulations go to all the class winners with particular mention to the winning team Imsa, Preformance Matmut Racing. Also special mention to the UAE teams who once again did us proud.”

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