24H Series – 24H of Dubai Qualifying


Photo Credit: (c) 24H Series

It was the moment cars in the classes of SP3-GT4, TCR, A3, CUP1 and A2 took to the track for the first of two half hour qualifying sessions. Mike Simpson in his #178 CWS Ginetta G55 was early on the pace and put in a time of 2:08.153 with Jann Mardenborough’s Nissan 370Z less than a second behind. Mardenborough did improve but it wasn’t enough to topple Simpson. In third place the Century Motorsport Ginnetta of Nathan Fricke waited, but he was taken over in the timings by Optimum’s Stewart Linn in his Ginetta who posted a time of 2;09.725.

In the TCR class it was Sebastiaan Bleekemolen who took the early lead and clocked a 2:12.327 in his Seat. He had a very big lead over James Kay in his #108 Audi with the Seat Leon of Red Camel’s Daniel Wheeler in third. Times were being swapped and by-passed throughout the TCR session but it was Mathias Beche who went to pole in the Modena Motorsports Seat. Bleekemolen and Kaye improved but for qualifying they had to settle for second and third in class.

Defending class champion Guillaume Roman held the early pace in the #303 Team Altran Peugeot with a time of 2:15.383 with his team mate Gonzalo Martin de Andres very close behind. Bernd Kupper sat third in the #131 BMW but not for long as Richard Verburg knocked him down in his Cor Euser Racing BMW.

The CUP1 class saw Stephan Epp put his #151 Sorg Rennsport BMW M325i on pole with another Sorg entry sitting in second courtesy of George Richardson and the QSR of Jimmy de Breucker in third. This was until the #146 Bonk Motorsport M325i of Max Partl jump up and take second in class.

Jacob Kristensen took the early lead in the A2 class in his Team K-Rejser Peugeot and stayed there. The Honda Integra of Ashan Silva sat second spot in class with Tanner Motorsport’s Andy Mollison pushing his Clio into third until Josh Cook put in an amazing lap which pushed him up to second.

It was time for the A6-Pro, A6-Am, SP-X, 991 and SP2 classes to take to the circuit and Christophe Haase managed the first flying lap of the day in his Optimum Motorsport Audi R8 LMS. His time only lasted for one lap as Mathieu Jaminet went below the two minute mark (1:58.917) in his IMSA Performance Porsche 991 GT3 R. It was then the turn of former Formula One ace Robert Kubica who posted a 1:59.116 in his Forch Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R to put him second overall and first in the A6-Am class, but this was cancelled due to exceeding track limits. Christopher Mies also broke the two minute barrier to go third in the A6-Pro class with other quick times coming from Paul Lafargue in the Mercedes AMG of IDEC Sport Racing and Michael Vergers in the Belgian Audi Club R8 LMS GT3.

Daniel de Jong was the early leader in SP-X, setting a 2:02.896 in the No. 19 Eurotrac Dodge Viper. Arnaud Gomez spooled up the exotic No. 204 “works” Vortex V8 to second in class with David Iradj Alexander next in the “customer” Vortex, No. 24 of the GPC team.

The venerable Porsche powered Silver Sting held the SP2 pole from start to finish, thanks to a 2:04.517 set by Jaap van Lagen. Mathieu Pontais was some distance further back with the older silhouette car, the No. 203 GC. Brett Sandberg was third in SP2 in the early part of the session with the No. 247 KTM X-Bow.

The fight for the top grid spots in 991 was fought by several teams. Initially the 2:04.623 of Christopher Zöchling (No. 92 MSG Motorsport) was good for top spot ahead of Klaus Bachler (No. 63 Race Pro Motorsport) and Anders Fjordabach (No. 68 Black Falcon). All were driving the requisite Porsche Cup cars comprising the one make class.

There was a new overall pole sitter halfway through the session when Jeroen Bleekemolen set a 1:57.705 in the No. 2 Black Falcon Mercedes AMG. Haase still held second but Maro Engel’s 1:58.248 in the other Black Falcon Mercedes was good enough for third. Kubica grabbed the lead in A6-Am with Lafargue next. Adding variety, Duncan Huisman moved to third in class with the No. 18 V8 Racing Corvette. In SP-X the No. 24 KTM moved into the class lead with a 2:02.533 by Iradj Alexander David. Van Laagen and Pontais maintained their 1-2 in SP2 while behind them Richard Verburg moved up to third in the No. 78 Speed Lover Porsche Cup car, opting for that category rather than the more restictive 991 class.

Things swapped around in the 991 class. Bachler improved to 2:03.566, good for the class pole. Zöchling slipped to third although his time improved slightly. Charles Espenlaub briefly held third in class with the No. 85 Pro Sport Performance Porsche until Bandar Al Esayi (No. 69 Black Falcon) eclipsed Espenlaub’s time.

Bleekemolen parked the Mercedes with several minutes left in the session. While his time held up for the overall pole, several cars behind him which had also stopped saw their cars demoted in the closing laps. Robert Renauer held second overall in the No. 911 Herberth Motorsport Porsche until the No. 963 Grasser Racing Lamborghini of Mirko Bortolotti bettered the mark. Fourteen cars ended with times under two minutes.

The No. 17 Mercedes, the No. 5 Audi, and the No 18 Corvetter held onto the top spots in A6-Am. Arnaud Gomez moved back into the SP-X lead with a 2:01.895 in the Vortex. Tom Dyer took over from Iradj Alexander and elevated the No. 24 Vortex to second in class while a late 2:02.771 by Ivo Breukers was just perfect to retain third place for the No. 19 Dodge.

Neil Simmons

Twitter: @world_racing

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