A close battle in the opening stages of the Dunlop 24H Dubai
Start of the 24 Hours of Dubai
Just after 14.00 h local time, His Highness Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum waved the flag of the United Arab Emirates to send off the field for the eighth running of the Dunlop 24H DUBAI. Other dignitaries to watch the start of the event included Dr. Mohammed Ben Sulayem, president of ACTUAE, the Emirates motorsport authority, and vice-president of the FIA, and Ali Fardan Al Fardan, chairman of the Dubai Autodrome. The numerous spectators at the Dubai Autodrome and watching the live footage on the internet and various TV channels all over the world got to see plenty of action in the opening hour.
Driving the Attempto Racing-Porsche 997 GT3 R (#26, Ivo Breukers/Kévin Estre/Nicki Thiim/Angel Benitez/Henry Hassid), Nicki Thiim took the lead as the race got underway and he was involved in nice battles and position changes with Jeroen Bleekemolen in the Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 (#1, Khaled Al Qubaisi/Bernd Schneider/Jeroen Bleekemolen/Sean Edwards) and Claudia Hürtgen in the Saudi Falcons Team BMW Z4 GT3 (#24, Abdulaziz Al Faisal/Faisal Binladen/Jorg Müller/Claudia Hürtgen/Dirk Müller).
However, there was drama for erstwhile leader Nicki Thiim within the first 30 minutes as a fuel line on his Attempto Racing-Porsche broke and set the rear of the car on fire. The fire could be extinguished quickly and the car made it back into the pits under its own steam, but the team dropped back considerably. Jeroen Bleekemolen stayed in the lead for the best part of the first hour that ended with a code 60 (maximum average speed of 60 kph for all cars) because of debris on the track. Most of the teams used that neutralisation to make their first pit stops for driver changes and refuelling.
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