2022 Dubai 24H Report: Saudi Arabian Team MS7 win the Hankook 24H Dubai; UAE’s Dragon racing win GT4 class

January 20, 2022

Mohammed Saud Fahad Al Saud, Axcil Jefferies, Dries Vanthoor, Christopher Mies and Thomas Neubauer powered the MS7 by WRT Audi R8 LMS to victory in the 2022 Dubai 24 Hours race, making it a dominant one-two for Belgian outfit WRT.

In what has become a mainstay of the international motorsport calendar, the first race of the year at Dubai Autodrome attracted most of the top teams and drivers in GT3 and touring cars, from around the globe.

After qualifying in pole position, the MS7 by WRT Audi controlled proceedings in a race that will be remembered for the attrition and traffic, which brought out the true mastery of some of the top drivers in what was the largest field for the race in four years.MS7 

However, traffic and challenges are the nature of this race; in the end, the MS7 by WRT team were unbeatable, completing 596 laps on their way to victory ahead of the sister WRT Audi R8 LMS piloted by Benjamin Goethe, Arnold Robin, Maxime Robin, Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer and Frédéric Vervisch, a lap down, as the pair of Audis crossed the finish line in-formation for the perfect photo-op to reach the first and second positions. They were three laps up on their closest rivals.

Incidents and traffic are all part of the Dubai 24H game of strategy, speed and endurance

Invariably, there were incidents and Code 60s as cars were recovered and the track made race-able again by hard-working marshalls and officials.

At one point, cars were forced to bypass the refuelling station due to a large queue at the fuel pumps when the race was in Code-60 mode.

Mercedes, with the latest AMG GT3, took the fight to their German rivals Audi, chasing hard but having to settle for best of the rest in the next three positions.

Third place went to the SunEnergy1 by SPS Mercedes shared by Kenny Habul, Mikaël Grenier, Maro Engel and Jules Gounon, ahead of Abu Dhabi Racing by HRT led by local hero and multiple 24H winner Khaled Al Qubaisi sharing the cockpit with Hubert Haupt, Raffaele Marciello and  Manuel Metzger sharing duties.

Fifth went to Al Manar Racing by HRT Mercedes driven by Omani racer Al Faisal Al Zubair, Indy Dontje, Luca Stolz and Martin Konrad.

Next up was the Porsche 911 GT3 R (991 II) of Stephen Grove, Brenton Grove, Anton De Pasquale and Sven Müller. Porsche made it three German manufacturers in the top six and are yet to be beaten at this race since 2006.

However, it might have been different had a potent challenge from the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo of Adrian Amstutz, Rolf Ineichen, Rik Breukers and Mirko Bortolotti not ended in disappointment, when mechanical issues resulted in a DNF for the British run team with the finish line only a few hours away.

In the GT3 Amateur class, Mercedes had the upper hand with top honours going to the CP Racing AMG GT3 of Charles Putman, Charles Espenlaub, Phil Quaife and Shane Lewis.

Also notable was the endurance debut for Saudi driver Reema Juffali in the SPS Mercedes-AMG GT3 which she shared with Valentin Pierburg, George Kurtz and John Loggie. They finished second in the Amateur class and ninth overall.

Dubai Autodrome based Dragon Racing win GT4 class

Possibly the most popular winners on the day were, Dubai Autodrome based, Dragon Racing who topped the GT4 class Mercedes-AMG GT4 with Roald Goethe, Oliver Goethe, Stuart Hall and Jordan Grogor doing the business. But not after an intense and relentless duel with the Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 shared by Gray Newell, Ian James, Roman De Angelis and Alex Riberas.

The winner of the touring car class was the BBR SEAT Cupra TCR DSG with an all-Thai driver line-up of Kantadhee Kusiri, Kantasak Kusiri, Anusorn Asiralertsiri, Tanart Sathienthirakul and Pasarit Promsombat taking the honours.

Five laps adrift of the touring car winner, in second, was the AC Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS DSG of Stephane Perrin, Mathieu Detry, Miklas Born and Yannick Mettler.

At the end of the day, the 17th running of the race belonged to the Saudi Arabian MS7 team by WRT Audi team of Al Saud, Jefferies, Vanthoor, Mies and Neubauer, who were spot-on with strategy, slick pit stops and drivers delivering at the highest level

The Autodrome attracted an estimated 8,000 fans and personnel to the event which in itself provided logistical challenges under the current Covid-19/Omnicron global landscape which were met by teams, organisers and spectators.

Speaking after the race, Dubai Autodrome General Manager Faisal Al Sahlawi said: “First and foremost we need to thank all the marshals, officials, media, teams, drivers and fans who attended our venue during the course of this week. All people adhering to the stringent but necessary health and safety conditions implemented to successfully stage the race.

“I am pleased to say that this priority was met and dealt with to provide a great race. To the overall winners MS7 by WRT Audi team I pass on my heartiest congratulations for excellent performance; the same thing for our own Autodrome based Dragon Racing for winning the GT4 category. I also wish to congratulate the Emirati team Rabdan Motorsports for completing their first endurance race from their first attempt, which is an achievement in itself, as well as all the other drivers and teams that celebrated on our podium.

“Finally a big thank you to Creventic and their team as well as all our people at Dubai Autodrome who made this event happen, under challenging conditions, on a weekend in which we were thankfully all winners,” concluded Al Sahlawi.

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