The tenth edition of the Dubai 24 hours, heralding the arrival of a new sponsor in the shape of Hankook tyres, may not have been the edge-of-your-seat thriller of a race that we have become used to in GT3 races these days, but nevertheless, it provided a worthwhile curtain-raiser to the 2015 season. In a nutshell, the Black Falcon Mercedes team did everything right – at least the crew of the no. 2 car did – and their win became, from the half-distance point onwards as inevitable as it was well-deserved. Hubert Haupt, Yelmer Buurman, Oliver Webb and Abdulaziz Al Faisal kept the car out of the way of trouble in a race that, with 89 starters, was always going to be a question of survival in the early stages.
The car was quick and the drivers stuck to their task well and it was a race in which the battle for second was the one that held the attention, once the Black Falcon car had established a two lap lead.
Unusually, the drivers shared the duties pretty evenly, cycling through in the same order: Buurman, Haupt, Al Faisal, Webb throughout the race; only the Dutchman getting an extra stint in order to bring the car home in its final stint.
In terms of laps completed, the breakdown was as follows:
|Hubert Haupt||167 laps||27.6%|
|Yelmer Buurman||153 laps||25.3%|
|Oliver Webb||142 laps||23.5%|
|Abdulaziz Al Faisal||142 laps||23.5%|
The drivers were pretty well-matched in terms of their lap times, too. The table shows the average lap time for each, based on the average of the best 20% of the ‘green’ (i.e. non-code 60) laps driven.
|Al Faisal||2m 02.902s|
Apart from speed, the other key to winning a race like this was to keep the car out of the pits. The table shows the time spent in the pits for the leading cars:
|No.||Car||Time in Pits (inc fuelling)||No. of stops|
|2||Black Falcon Mercedes||1h 20m 37s||20|
|30||Ram Racing Mercedes||1h 36m 56s||23|
|88||Dragon Racing Ferrari||1h 19m 41s||21|
|28||KPM Aston Martin||1h 36m 57s||22|
|23||Team RJN Nissan GT||1h 32m 58s||23|
|4||Scuderia Praha Ferrari||1h 44m 33s||22|
|99||Attempto Racing Porsche||1h 21m 34s||22|
As I already mentioned, the race for second place was particularly enthralling, made more so by the fact that the Dragon Racing Ferrari was running in the “Am” category of the A6 class, unlike either the RAM Racing Mercedes SLS or the KPM Aston Martin Vantage. Creventic’s cleverly-constructed regulations allow cars in the Am category to run 30kg lighter and to take on 5 litres more fuel at each stop, but limit the cars in the class to a so-called “minimum reference lap time” of 2m 05s, under which they are not allowed to go.
With this in mind, it is interesting to compare the number of laps completed by each of the above-mentioned cars in each time bracket:
|No.||Car||sub 2m 02s||2m 02s to 2m 04s||2m 04s to 2m 06s||2m 06s to 2m 08s|
|2||Black Falcon Mercedes||42||212||195||66|
|30||Ram Racing Mercedes||45||250||152||50|
|88||Dragon Racing Ferrari||5||3||350||125|
|28||KPM Aston Martin||74||192||143||81|
|23||Team RJN Nissan GT||1||4||244||165|
The rules permit cars running in the Am category to use ten “jokers”, enabling them to go under the 2m 04s lap time: Dragon Racing (or perhaps more precisely, Matt Griffin) used eight of these. What is particularly impressive is the 350 laps run between 2m 04s and 2m 06s. Griffin did 11 laps (out of 135) over 2m 07s (not Code 60 or pit stop laps), Rob Barff just 7 out of 119. An astonishingly consistent performance.
Could anyone else than Black Falcon have won the race? Barring an unexpected incident affecting the progress of the no. 2 car, not really. Looking at the average of the best 20% of lap times is a good indicator of outright performance.
|No.||Car||Average Lap Time|
|1||Stadler Porsche||2m 01.894s|
|2||Black Falcon Mercedes||2m 01.458s|
|3||Black Falcon Mercedes||2m 01.794s|
|4||Scuderia Praha Ferrari||2m 02.528s|
|12||Fach Auto Tech Porsche||2m 01.500s|
|19||V8 Racing Corvette||2m 02.473s|
|28||KPM Aston Martin||2m 01.485s|
|30||Ram Racing Mercedes||2m 02.029s|
Whilst it is certainly true that all the cars that finished in the top six were worthy of their finishing positions, this table of average lap times shows how well the Creventic rules balance performance. Six different manufacturers’ cars comprise the top ten positions. And in terms of the average lap times, the fact that three-hundredths of a second per lap separates the top cars from Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Aston Martin is remarkable indeed.
Surely the first win for an Aston Martin in a 24-hour race for GT3 cars cannot be far away?