The 18th running of the Dubai 24 Hour, the 2023 Hankook Dubai 24 Hour, an endurance race was held at the Dubai Autodrome on January 14–15, 2023, and the first round of the 2023 24H GT Series and TCE Series.
The event, which was hosted by Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, head of the Dubai Sports Council, had over 42 teams, 54 vehicles, and 226 different drivers in the GT3, GTX, and TCR categories.
For decades, race car aficionados have been intrigued with revs, speed, and driving talents. While many racing races are based on who crosses the finish line first, other motorsport events test the car and driver’s endurance over 6, 12, or 24 hours. Among these sports car racing events, the Hankook 24H is one of the world’s most popular endurance races.
Endurance racing challenges both the vehicle’s operation and the drivers’ abilities. In that regard, the Hankook 24H Dubai has established itself as a major race event on the motorsport calendar.
Over 50 vehicles and 200 drivers, including UAE’s three-time champion Khaled Al-Qubaisi, competed in a hard endurance race. Support races include the Formula Regional Middle East Championship, F4 UAE Championship, all with record-breaking fields, and the Clio Cup Middle East Championship.
Al-Sahlawi added: “It is fantastic to see such a strong field of drivers and teams taking part in this year’s Hankook 24H Dubai, which has now established itself as one of the most anticipated events on the International Motorsports calendar. Every year, there has been plenty of drama on the circuit with drivers giving their best in what is a marathon of racing, and this truly adds to the excitement of the event. There will be many drivers aiming to do their country proud, including the UAE, and we wish everyone the best of luck.”
Aside from some of the best international drivers that competed, the circuit included a mix of Emirati and regional racers. Khaled Al-Qubaisi of the UAE, a member of the Haupt Racing Team, hopes to repeat the class win and overall podium finish from the 2021 event. Al-Qubaisi, a three-time winner in Dubai, will compete with team head Sebastian Baud and two-time Spa 24 Hours champion Jules Gounon on the track.
“The 24-hour race in Dubai has developed into a classic and one of the top events in international motorsport. The teams can test their material under tough competitive conditions at the start of the year and gain valuable information for the rest of the season. For this reason, the starting fields are always particularly big in Dubai, which makes for a lot of traffic and fierce battles on the track. We have always enjoyed top-class motorsport here with Creventic in the past, and have only been thwarted once by torrential rain, which caused the race to be suspended. We are looking forward to a spectacular season-opener in Dubai and an exciting 24H Series in 2023. As we have been in recent years, Hankook will be a reliable partner for the drivers, teams and organizer Creventic, with its Ventus Race tyre and expert service on site,” promises Hankook Motorsport Director Europe, Manfred Sandbichler.
Al-Faisal Al-Zubair of Al-Manar by HRT aiming to raise the flag high for Oman, and his squad features Axcil Jefferies, who won in 2022 with squad MS7 by WRT and also coaches drivers at Dubai Autodrome when he is not racing.
Among these, the Hankook 24H Dubai race has become a well-known event on automobile racing calender. It is an event in which up to 100 teams compete using touring and Grand Tourer (GT) vehicles from well-known car manufacturers such as Audi, Porsche, BMW, Renault, Ferrari, and Mercedes.
On its endurance racing debut as a BMW M customer outfit, Team WRT BMW M4 GT3 (#7, Mohammed Saud Fahad Al Saud / Diego Menchaca / Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer / Jens Klingmann / Dries Vanthoor) won the 2023 Hankook 24H DUBAI event, their third overall victory, defeating Herberth Motorsport by 31 seconds. Valentino Rossi also achieved his maiden podium as a BMW M factory driver, finishing third.
Vincent Vosse, Team Principal BMW M Team WRT: “The race went quite smoothly. We did not expect that after qualifying as we were missing a bit of pace but with the drivers and the crew we were able to have a great strategy. That helped us to put the #7 car in the lead and then to manage the window of the strategy. That is the most important thing here to be able to win. The car was very strong, it ran trouble-free. The #46 had a small contact at the beginning of the race, otherwise I think they would have fought with car #7. To get familiar with the car in race conditions is important. We knew that it is possible to win if the car can make it to the end, if we don’t do mistakes, if we don’t get penalties. There was some strong opposition, but they did mistakes and we tried to avoid them. It was the right decision to participate in the race instead of continuing to test. The race went well and we learnt a lot.“
“The challenge was big!” Team WRT principal Vincent Vosse explained to radiolemans.com’s Joe Bradley. “We know how difficult this race can be, and in the end, you need a bit of luck, great strategy from the team, and faultless work from the drivers. It was a great race, and we did learn a lot at this race about the [BMW M4 GT3]. We are missing a bit of sleep, but we will find a way to celebrate!”
Other winners in the 2023 24H SERIES powered by Hankook include:
Saintéloc Junior Team
· Valentino Rossi takes first podium as BMW M factory driver in 3rd.
· Reigning Continents GT Trophy winner CP Racing strengthens Middle East Trophy standings lead.
· FACH AUTO TECH takes commanding 1-2 in 992; Huber Motorsport highest-placed 992-AM entrant.
· UAE’s Dragon Racing takes another Hankook 24H DUBAI class win in GT4; razoon-more than racing on top in GTX.
· AC Motorsport puts recent bad luck behind it with TCR win.
The Team WRT BMW M4 GT3 (#7, Mohammed Saud Fahad Al Saud / Diego Menchaca / Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer / Jens Klingmann / Dries Vanthoor) emerged on top of a race-long battle with the Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R (#91, Daniel Allemann / Ralf Bohn / Alfred Renauer / Robert Renauer) to win by 31 seconds. In a dramatic finale, the Herberth Porsche, which had short-fuelled during the penultimate set of pit stops to prioritise track position, led the WRT BMW by barely 10 seconds heading into the final 20 minutes of the race, only to lose it with a splash-and-dash in the final 10 minutes.
Back in front, Dries Vanthoor drove the #7 BMW M4 GT3 past the finish line, completing 621 circuits of the 5.39km Dubai Autodrome and winning outright. This is Team WRT’s third event win, following triumphs in 2016 and 2022, and the first overall win for a BMW at the Hankook 24H DUBAI since Need for Speed by Schubert Motorsport in 2011. Vanthoor and Saudi Arabian partner Mohammed Saud Fahad Al Saud won the Hankook 24H DUBAI for the second time in a row.
Dries Vanthoor (#7 BMW M4 GT3, 1st place): “I am thrilled that we won our first race with BMW M Motorsport. That race was not easy for us, the Porsche was always there. However, we made good calls during the Code 60 phases and came out on top in the end. The BMW M4 GT3 ran smoothly, the drivers, team, support from BMW M Motorsport, everything was super. It was a nice start and we now obviously hope that we will go on to claim many more victories.”
Andreas Roos, Head of BMW M Motorsport: “It was a fantastic race debut for BMW M Team WRT with the BMW M4 GT3. Congratulations on the victory and third place. Vincent Vosse’s team did an outstanding job and familiarized itself superbly with the car, the drivers were fast and flawless, and our BMW M4 GT3 ran like clockwork. This success made the 24H Dubai the perfect dress rehearsal for the team ahead of its first official outing with BMW M Motorsport, the 12 Hours of Bathurst in three weeks. However, I am also delighted with the successful start for our new BMW M4 GT4 in its debut season. Both cars finished on the podium in the GT4 class after 24 hours of racing. That shows how competitive our new customer race car is already.”
Seven-time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi, who holds the record of 89 premier class victories, made his 24H Series debut at the Hankook 24H Dubai 2023, behind the wheel for Team WRT — a two-time Hankook 24H Dubai winner, and took first podium as BMW M factory driver in 3rd.
Rossi raced in Dubai for the first time since retiring from MotoGP in 2021, and came in 3rd, his 1st podium in endurance racing, alongside Spa 24 Hours winner and 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner Maxime Martin, World Endurance Championship driver Sean Gelael, and Britain’s Tim White, who currently competes in the GT4 European Series.
Valentino Rossi (#46 BMW M4 GT3, 3rd place): “I am very happy because it’s the first podium with WRT for me and to make it in my first race together with BMW M Motorsport is great. It is a sign. It is a great way to start. The race was good and I enjoyed it a lot. It was not easy but at the end we got the podium and that was our target.”
Faisal Al-Sahlawi, general manager of Dubai Autodrome on Rossi’s participation, said: “Valentino Rossi is an icon when it comes to Grand Prix motorcycling, having had a truly remarkable racing career that has spanned more than 25 years, and we are thrilled to be welcoming him to Dubai Autodrome for the Hankook 24H Dubai race.
“For racing fans — regardless of which discipline you enjoy — this is an unmissable opportunity to see one of the sport’s greatest names in action right here in Dubai as he tests himself in one of the most challenging endurance races in the world. The fact that he is taking part reaffirms how highly-rated the Hankook 24H Dubai is, which continues to go from strength to strength.”
The Hankook 24 Hour Endurance Race is a contest involving Grand Tourer and Touring vehicles from prominent auto companies. The Hankook 24 Hours Dubai event involves the following classes of cars:
- GT3: Mercedes-AMG, Audi R8 LMS, Porsche 911, BMW M4, McLaren 720S
- GTX: Vortex 1.0, KTM X-bow
- 992: Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (Type 992)
- GT4: Mercedes-AMG GT4, BMW M4 GT4 ( Generation-II)
- TCR: Audi RS3 LMS, Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR DSG
- TCX: Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CS (Type 982)
Hankook 24H Dubai, January 27-28, 2024.
The Hankook 24H Dubai endurance event has become a fixture on the worldwide motorsport calendar, boasting the world’s second largest 24H race grid, with competitors from all over the world.
The lineup includes more than 70 Touring and GT vehicles from well-known brands such as Porsche, BMW, Ford, Seat, Renault, Ferrari, Mercedes, and Audi.
Don’t miss your chance to come up close to these machines at the Grid Walk on Saturday, January 27th, 2024, at 11 a.m.*!