GPX Racing Porsche drivers Mathieu Jaminet, Julien Andlauer, Axcil Jefferies, Frederic Fatien and Alain Ferte took a dominant victory in the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai.
Their No. 36 GPX Porsche 911 GT3 R ran a flawless race to win by just over three minutes, or a whole lap, from the second-placed Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo of Dries Vanthoor, Kelvin van der Linde, Frank Bird, Benjamin Goethe and Louis Machiels.
Haupt Racing Team completed the podium a further half-minute behind with its Bilstein-liveried Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo driven by Maro Engel, Patrick Assenheimer, Ryan Ratcliffe and defending winners Hubert Haupt and Khaled Al Qubaisi.
It marked the second major 24-hour race win for the United Arab Emirates-flagged GPX squad, which also triumphed in the 2019 Total 24 Hours of Spa for Porsche.
Furthermore, the result made Porsche the most successful manufacturer in 24H Dubai history with its sixth overall win to break ahead of Mercedes-AMG’s five victories.
Porsche’s last win came courtesy of this year’s pole-sitter Herberth Motorsport in the 2017 edition of the race.
Herberth’s No. 92 Porsche led the opening stint from the front of the 52-car mixed class grid but fell away from the lead battle due to a suspension issue in the first half.
GPX then stepped forward as a contender and battled HRT in the opening quarter of the race before moving clear courtesy of strong stints from its Pro drivers Jaminet, Andlauer and Jefferies.
The team held a six-minute lead at halfway but this came down as daylight broke on Saturday morning, although its advantage was never seriously threatened.
GPX ended up leading 87 percent of the 600-lap final race distance, including an uninterrupted 476-lap stretch from the start of the sixth hour to the checkered flag.
WRT and HRT instead became locked in a battle for second that was decided at the final round of pit stops.
The 16th and final Code 60 caution period of the race occurring just before the start of the last hour invited all of the GT3 Pro front-runners to pit for full services.
However, HRT brought Al Qubaisi in again after a short 13-lap stint, once the Emirati driver had met his two-hour minimum total drive time, and installed Engel for the run to the end.
This promoted Vanthoor into second, but HRT’s hopes of the Audi factory man needing to make a late splash for fuel to reverse the positions did not materialize.
Engel finished half a minute behind Vanthoor after taking approximately 15 seconds out of the gap.
GRT Grasser Racing finished fourth with its Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo driven by Mirko Bortolotti, Rik Breukers, Rolf Ineichen and Adrian Amstutz.
The Austrian squad was a podium contender throughout the opening half but lost its chance to stake a claim on the top three due to a one-minute stop and hold penalty for overtaking under a Code 60 speed restriction.
Haupt Racing Team’s No. 5 Abu Dhabi Racing Mercedes-AMG completed the overall top-five and scooped Am category honors in the process.
Car Collection Motorsport’s No. 34 Audi finished sixth, ahead of the all-French Racetivity Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo that included FIA World Endurance Championship GTE-Am champions Francois Perrodo and Emmanuel Collard in its driver lineup.
Porsche squad Dinamic Motorsport was on course for a strong overall placing until a gearbox issue took hold less than two hours from the finish.
The highest-placed non-GT3 car was the Porsche 991-II Cup class-winning NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing machine that came through in 12th outright.
SRO America regular ST Racing won the GT4 class with its BMW M4 GT4 driven by Jon Miller, Nick Wittmer, Samantha Tan and Chandler Hull.
The Canadian squad was classified three laps ahead of the Aston Martin Vantage GT4 run by PROsport Racing.
Swiss team TOPCAR Sport finished top of the TCE division with its Cupra TCR DSG which took the lead shortly before halfway and remained ahead until the end.
Whilst TOPCAR commanded the TCR sub-class, the TCX category within TCE was won by PK Carsport’s BMW M2 CS Racing.
Unlike last year’s 24H Dubai which was permanently red-flagged after seven hours due to torrential rain, this year’s 16th edition ran in completely dry conditions.
The race marked the opening round of the 24H Series, which continues next weekend with a non-championship round at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.