Mercedes-AMG Motorsport continues its streak of podium results in Dubai 24-hour race

Mercedes-AMG Motorsport continues its streak of podium results in Dubai 24-hour race

16.01.2021: A successful season opener for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport: Customer Racing Team HRT Bilstein finished in third place of the 24-hour race in Dubai with its #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3. In the process, Khaled Al Qubaisi (UAE), Patrick Assenheimer, Maro Engel, Hu

A successful season opener for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport: Customer Racing Team HRT Bilstein finished in third place of the 24-hour race in Dubai with its #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3.


In the process, Khaled Al Qubaisi (UAE), Patrick Assenheimer, Maro Engel, Hubert Haupt (all GER) and Ryan Ratcliffe (GBR) secured the 14th podium result for the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach in the endurance racing classic.

The GT3-AM class win for the HRT sister car with starting number #5 and a total of four cars in the top ten rounded out the strong achievements by the Customer Racing Teams in the desert.

•    3rd place for #4 HRT Bilstein Mercedes-AMG GT3

•    GT3-AM class win for #5 HRT ABU DHABI RACING

•    Four Mercedes-AMG GT3s in the top 10

•    3rd place in the GT4 class for Dragon Racing

In perfect weather conditions, the cars from Affalterbach took on the first endurance racing highlight of the season at the 5.390 kilometres long circuit at Dubai Autodrome. Following  five overall wins by the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Teams in the Dubai 24-hour race, the HRT Bilstein GT3-PRO crew ranked among the promising candidates for a top result.

With seventh place on the grid, the initial situation for the #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3 wasn’t perfect, but the team quickly made up for this in the opening hours of the race. By virtue of a good start, Maro Engel (GER) managed to make up two positions and handed the car to team owner Hubert Haupt (GER) after two hours.

The three-time Dubai race winner brought the Mercedes-AMG GT3 on course for the podium and racked up some miles in the lead of the field from lap 79 onwards. Subsequently, Patrick Assenheimer (GER) also led the field for several laps. Due to an inconvenient code 60 right after a pit stop, the team then lost some time, but remained consistently on course for a podium finish.

During the night, the #4 car established itself in the front-running group and ran in second place until 30 minutes before the finish. Following a final driver change from Khaled Al Qubaisi (UAE) to Engel, the team dropped back one place and eventually crossed the finish line in third place after 599 laps.

The HRT ABU DHABI RACING sister car, meanwhile, also showed a strong performance. Having temporarily dropped back from sixth place on the grid, Nico Bastian (GER) drove the #5 Mercedes-AMG GT3 back into the top ten again. Thanks to a race that was trouble-free afterwards, Bastian, Valentin Pierburg (GER), Florian Scholze (GER) and the two double starters Al Qubaisi and Assenheimer moved up into fifth place in the early morning hours.

The team then defended this position in a commanding way throughout the remainder of the race, ending up in first place of the GT3-AM category. As a result, victory in the AM car class went to a Mercedes-AMG GT3 for the fifth consecutive time.

For a large part of the race, a 1-2 in the category was on the cards. CP Racing, running as the reigning GT3 AM class champions in the 24H SERIES season opener, gradually worked its way up from 16th on the grid as the race unfolded. After 437 laps, however, the #85 Mercedes-AMG GT3 retired following a spin from sixth place and a subsequent impact into the barriers that damaged the chassis beyond repair.

Two further Mercedes-AMG GT3s managed to finish in the top ten, rounding out the strong team achievement as a result. French team Racetivity finished in seventh place with its #83 Mercedes-AMG GT3 with drivers Emmanuel Collard, François Perrodo, Charles-Henri Samani and Matthieu Vaxiviere (all FRA). Having started from 13th on the grid, the #19 MP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 was unfortunate with a collision in the early stages of the race.

 However, Bert de Heus, Daniel de Jong, Henk de Jong and Jaap van Lagen (NED) made a successful comeback and worked their way up through the field of over 50 cars. The team eventually finished in ninth place overall and fourth in the GT3-AM class.

Moreover, Dragon Racing contributed a podium result in the GT4 class with its #488 Mercedes-AMG GT4. Adam Christodoulou, Ollie Hancock, John Hartshore (all GBR) and Denis Remenyako (RUS) finished 20th overall and third in class.

Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “
We are very happy with such a start into the 2021 motorsport year. Starting the season with a podium finish and a class win right away in this 24-hour race with its particularly strong entry is a great success.

Congratulations to Haupt Racing Team on a convincing performance. Moreover, our further Customer Racing Teams also did really well in the season opener. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 has again shown its strength in endurance races. The outstanding team result with four cars among the first nine is making us confident while looking forward to the many challenges that are still awaiting us this season.”

Maro Engel, HRT Bilstein #4:
“Second place was within reach, the battle was only decided just before the end of the race. Ultimately, it wasn’t quite enough, so third place it is for us. The race wasn’t easy, especially with so many cars on track. Many thanks to the team and my fellow drivers in the cockpit and congrats to the winners.”

Hubert Haupt, team owner and driver HRT Bilstein #4:
“Here in Dubai, we competed with two cars with a top set-up and we held on to our positions in the front-running group with both cars. Our car with starting number 5 has put in a great performance and scored a commanding class win. With the #4 car, we really would have loved to win the race, but a podium in the season opener is also a good result, of course. Many thanks to the entire team for a successful race weekend!”

Patrick Assenheimer, HRT Bilstein #4 and HRT ABU DHABI RACING #5
: “The car, the team performance, it was all spot-on today. We quickly made up for the initial difficulties with the #5 car and everyone contributed to that. Securing victory in the GT3-AM class is fantastic, of course, and the well-earned reward for our effort. Too bad that it didn’t work out with the overall win for the #4.”

Nico Bastian, HRT ABU DHABI RACING #5:
“After the initial difficulties, this was a phenomenal achievement. The entire team has done a faultless job and we made clever use of the code 60 neutralisations. I am very proud of my teammates Valentin, Florian, Khaled and Patrick who have done a great job and were always quick out there. It was great fun!”

Result Dubai 24 Hours*:

1.    1.
(GT3-PRO)    36    Porsche 911 GT3-R    GPX Racing    Julien Andlauer (FRA), Frédéric Fatien (FRA), Alain Ferté (FRA), Mathieu Jaminet (FRA), Axcil Jefferies (ZIM)

2.    2.
(GT3-PRO)    31    Audi R8 LMS GT3     WRT    Frank Bird (GBR), Benjamin Goethe (GER), Louis Machiels (BEL), Kelvin van der Linde (RSA), Dries Vanthoor (BEL)

3.    3.
(GT3-PRO)    4    Mercedes-AMG GT3    HRT Bilstein    Khaled Al Qubaisi (UAE), Patrick Assenheimer (GER), Maro Engel (GER), Hubert Haupt (GER), Ryan Ratcliffe (GBR)

5.    1.
(GT3-AM)    5    Mercedes-AMG GT3    HRT ABU DHABI RACING    Khaled Al Qubaisi (UAE), Patrick Assenheimer (GER), Nico Bastian (GER), Valentin Pierburg (GER), Florian Scholze (GER)

7.    5.
(GT3-PRO)    83    Mercedes-AMG GT3    Racetivity    Emmanuel Collard (FRA), François Perrodo (FRA), Charles-Henri Samani (FRA), Matthieu Vaxiviere (FRA)

9.    4.
(GT3-AM)    19    Mercedes-AMG GT3    MP Motorsport    Bert de Heus (NED), Daniel de Jong (NED), Henk de Jong (NED), Jaap van Lagen (NED)

20.    3.
(GT4)    488    Mercedes-AMG GT4    Dragon Racing    Adam Christodoulou (GBR), Ollie Hancock (GBR), John Hartshorne (GBR), Denis Remenyako (RUS)

DNF    7.
(GT3-AM)    85    Mercedes-AMG GT3    CP Racing    Charles Espenlaub (USA), Joe Foster (USA), Shane Lewis (USA), Charles Putman (USA)

* excerpt subject to confirmation by the organiser


Jochen Übler, - photos Mercedes / Creventic


16.01.2021 / MaP

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