In bright sunshine and in front of a good crowd on the grandstand and the roof of the pitlane building, Sheikh Juma Al Maktoum and ATCUAE president Dr. Mohammed Ben Sulayem waved the flag in the national colours of the Emirates to send off a record field of 98 cars for the eleventh running of the Hankook 24H DUBAI. Until 14.00 hrs local time on Saturday, Dubai Autodrome will serve as the venue for the opening round of the 2016 24H SERIES powered by Hankook.
Following accidents in practice sessions, the Sorg Rennsport BMW M235i Racing (#152, Pierre Martinet/Jules Gounon/Olivier Baron/Luca Clima) and the Red Camel-Jordans.nl MARC Mazda 3 V8 (#202, Toni Bueler/Klaus Kresnik/Bert de Heus/Sjaco Griffioen) didn’t make it to the race, but the field of 98 cars still provided an impressive sight and sound.
The first 30 minutes of the race were marked by a fierce battle for the lead among the Audis that started from the front row. Pole sitter Christer Jöns took the lead with the C. Abt Racing Audi R8 LMS (#4, Christer Jöns/Andreas Weishaupt/Isaac Tutumlu Lopez/Matias Henkola/Daniel Abt), but Christopher Mies in the Land Motorsport Audi (#28, Marc Basseng/Christopher Mies/Carsten Tilke/Connor de Phillippi) kept him under pressure and moved up into the lead on lap two. On lap eight, Jöns restored the initial order, but the end of lap eleven, Mies came to the fore again. With the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS (#19, Alain Ferté/Michael Meadows/Stuart Leonard/Laurens Vanthoor) in third and the Optimum Motorsport car (#14, Flick Haigh/Ryan Ratcliffe/Joe Osborne/Frank Stippler) in fourth, Audis locked out the top four throughout the first 30 minutes of the race. The best-placed non-Audi driver was Jeroen Bleekemolen, fifth in the Abu Dhabi Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#2, Khaled Al Qubaisi/Hubert Haupt/Jeroen Bleekemolen/Maro Engel/Indy Dontje).