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24h Dubai: Mercedes-AMG wins a thrilling Dubai 24-hour race with Black Falcon

The 2018 season starts with a victory for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport: in the 24-hour race at Dubai, the Customer Racing Teams with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored both the overall victory and the A6-PRO and A6-AM class wins. In the #2 car, Abdulaziz Al Faisal (KSA), Yelmer Buurman (NED), Hubert Haupt (GER) and Gabriele Piana (ITA) scored the fourth overall win for BLACK FALCON and Mercedes-AMG Motorsport in Dubai. In the A6-AM class, Customer Racing Team SPS automotive-performance secured victory. The much-noticed 24-hour race debut of the new Mercedes-AMG GT4 also ended successfully with a podium finish in the GT4 class.

Just like in 2012, 2013 and 2015, the winners of the 24-hour race in Dubai are BLACK FALCON and Mercedes-AMG Motorsport. During the first highlight of the 2018 endurance racing season, Abdulaziz Al Faisal (KSA), Yelmer Buurman (NED), Hubert Haupt (GER) and Gabriele Piana (ITA) shone with a strong performance in their Mercedes-AMG GT3 from the very beginning. After a start from third place on the grid, some positions were lost in the opening stages, but the quartet quickly made up these places.

Thanks to consistently fast lap times and faultless stints, the quartet established itself among the front runners in the race, together with the #3 sister car that was driven by Khaled Al Qubaisi (UAE), Jeroen Bleekemolen (NED), Manuel Metzger (GER) and Luca Stolz (GER). During the night, the two BLACK FALCON cars held on to first and second place, which even grew into a three-way lead after the #25 HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 had closed up.    

In the morning hours, however, the #25 car dropped out of the front-running group: the car with Brice Bosi (LUX), Indy Dontje (NED), Alexander Hrachowina (AUT), Martin Konrad (AUT) and Bernd Schneider (GER) had to make unscheduled pit stops due to minor issues and thus lost the class lead that it temporarily held. Until the finish, the quintet worked its way back up into ninth place overall and thus also claimed third position in the A6-AM class.

With four hours remaining, bad luck also hit the #3 BLACK FALCON car that was part of the 1-2 lead as it got involved in a collision with the #1 Hofor Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 that was equally on course for a top ten finish. For both cars, the accident led to the untimely retirement. Unfazed by the fate of the sister car, the #2 BLACK FALCON car dominated proceedings in the remainder of the race as it maintained an undisputed lead. Final driver Abdulaziz Al Faisal then brought the fourth Dubai victory for BLACK FALCON and Mercedes-AMG Mercedes home after 606 laps.

The marathon in the desert was equally successful for the #16 SPS automotive-performance Mercedes-AMG GT3. Lance David Arnold (GER), Dominik Baumann (AUT), Tim Müller (GER) and Valentin Pierburg (GER) had started from twelfth place on the grid. Until the end of the race, the quartet made progress to fourth place overall with largely trouble-free stints. At the same time, final driver Dominik Baumann thus secured a commanding victory in the A6-AM class.

For the Mercedes-AMG GT4 that started its first official season in Dubai, the race ended with a class podium finish by the #24 BLACK FALCON Team TMD Friction car with Antares Au (HKG), Jonathan Hui (HKG), Kevin Tse (MAC) and Frank Yu (HKG) as well as fourth place for the #233 Besagroup Racing entry with Roland Asch (GER), Sebastian Asch (GER), Franjo Kovac (CRO), Cora Schumacher (GER) and Fidel Leib (GER). The third GT4 from Affalterbach, the #84 Team RACE Scout by Winward / HTP Motorsport car with Norberto Fontana (ARG), Christian Gebhardt (GER), Bernd Schneider (GER), Bryce Ward (USA) and Russel Ward (USA) behind the wheel, had bad luck. During the night, the car got innocently involved in a collision while leading its class. After several hours of repairs, the team rejoined the race. Yet another collision then forced the team to park the car that had made promotion for the new RACE Scout community platform with its striking livery.

Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “What a turbulent season opener here in the 24-hour race at Dubai. Our Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Teams have experienced many highs, but also lows, something that unfortunately happens during such a hard-fought race. A big thank you to all the Customer Racing Teams that really have presented themselves in a great way here. First and foremost BLACK FALCON that already managed to score the overall win for Mercedes-AMG for the fourth time here. On top of that victory in the A6-AM category by SPS automotive-performance: we can be more than happy with such a start of the new season. With our new Mercedes-AMG GT4, we have also shown that we are absolutely competitive, even though we lacked that final bit of motor racing luck here in the desert. But that’s racing.”

Hubert Haupt, BLACK FALCON #2: “I am super happy! The weekend was just great. Apart from a minor issue that cost us almost no time, everything went perfectly. The car ran like clockwork. The team has worked optimally, nobody has made even the slightest mistake. That was the key to success.”

Yelmer Buurman, BLACK FALCON #2: “This is an incredibly great success and a great way to start the year. During my final stint, it was about managing our huge margin of three laps, which wasn’t easy. You have to focus a lot. I was only in the car for one hour, but it felt like three hours. Now, it is time to celebrate!”

Dominik Baumann, SPS automotive-performance #16: “I am absolutely happy. Had somebody told us before that we would finish fourth overall in this hard race with its strong entry, I would have laughed at him. But it really went perfectly, we had an entirely faultless race and we don’t have a single scratch on the car. Our two bronze drivers in the team have done a super job, have made it through the night in an excellent way, handed the car to Lance and me in great positions and the only thing we had to do was to bring it home, so to say. During my final stint, I had to be cautious a bit, because we were given a ten seconds’ time penalty, but eventually, it was enough for fourth place and victory in the A6-AM class.”

Bernd Schneider, HTP Motorsport #25: “We were in a very good position in the race and were aiming at a class win, but then, a few minor problems cost us the decisive time. Too bad for the team as it has done a tremendous job. I am happy for Mercedes-AMG that again has shown a very strong performance here in Dubai again.”

Luca Stolz, BLACK FALCON #3: “Of course, the accident while in the lead was sad. I backed off because of traffic in front of me and I was collected from behind. In such a situation, there is nothing you can do. Too bad, because we had a very good chance of winning here.”

Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Teams and Drivers 24h Dubai*:

POS overall POS class Nr. Car Team Drivers
1 1 (A6-PRO) 2 Mercedes-AMG GT3 BLACK FALCON Abdulaziz Al Faisal (KSA) Yelmer Buurman (NED) Hubert Haupt (GER) Gabriele Piana (ITA)
4 1 (A6-AM) 16 Mercedes-AMG GT3 SPS automotive-performance Lance David Arnold (GER) Dominik Baumann (AUT) Tim Müller (GER) Valentin Pierburg (GER)
9 3 (A6-AM) 25 Mercedes-AMG GT3 HTP Motorsport Brice Bosi (LUX) Indy Dontje (NED) Alexander Hrachowina (AUT) Martin Konrad (AUT) Bernd Schneider (GER)
21 8 (A6-AM) 19 Mercedes-AMG GT3 MP Motorsport Bert de Heus (NED) Daniel de Jong (NED) Henk de Jong (NED)
31 3 (GT4) 264 Mercedes-AMG GT4 BLACK FALCON Team TMD Friction Antares Au (HKG) Jonathan Hui (HKG) Kevin Tse (MAC) Frank Yu (HKG)
33 4 (GT4) 233 Mercedes-AMG GT4 Besagroup Racing Roland Asch (GER) Sebastian Asch (GER) Franjo Kovac (CRO) Cora Schumacher (GER) Fidel Leib (GER)
49 10 (A6-AM) 85 Mercedes-AMG GT3 PROsport Performance Adam Christodoulou (GBR) Charles Espenlaub (USA) Joe Foster (USA) Charles Putman (USA)
54 DNF 8 (A6-PRO) 3 Mercedes-AMG GT3 BLACK FALCON Khaled Al Qubaisi (UAE) Jeroen Bleekemolen (NED) Manuel Metzger (GER) Luca Stolz (GER)
57 11 (A6-AM) 7 Mercedes-AMG GT3 BLACK FALCON Rui Aguas (POR) Saud Al Faisal (KSA) Saeed Al Mouri (KSA) Kriton Lendoudis (GRE)
63 DNF 12 (A6-AM) 1 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Hofor Racing Roland Eggimann (SUI) Christiaan Frankenhout (NED) Kenneth Heyer (GER) Chantal Kroll (SUI) Michael Kroll (SUI)
64 DNF 13 (A6-AM) 24 Mercedes-AMG GT3 SPS automotive-performance Antonin Borga (FRA) Iradj Alexander-David (SUI) Alexandre Coigny (SUI) Richard Feller (SUI)
78 DNF 9 (GT4) 84 Mercedes-AMG GT4 Team RACE Scout by Winward / HTP Motorsport Norberto Fontana (ARG) Christian Gebhardt (GER) Bernd Schneider (GER) Bryce Ward (USA) Russel Ward (USA)
DNC DNC (A6-PRO) 5 Mercedes-AMG GT3 RAM Racing Euan Hankey (GBR) Tom Onslow-Cole (GBR) Remon Leonard Vos (NED)

* subject to confirmation by the organiser

Press release Mercedes-AMG


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