Dubai 24hr: Khalid Al Qubaisi “An amazing race and my biggest win for sure” for Mercedes AMG GT3 Black Falcon team
2012 Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai – Emirati driver Khalid Al Qubaisi and the Abu Dhabi Black Falcon team with Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 crossed the finish line at the Dubai Autodrome at 2pm this afternoon to win the seventh edition of the Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai, and doing so scoring one of the most important victories of his career on home soil.
Al Qubaisi teamed up with Sean Edwards, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Thomas Jager to score the first win for Mercedes in the Dubai race. Looking fresh and visibly delighted Al Qubaisi jumped on to the bonnet of his car in parc ferme and punched the air in triumph.
He then, along with his team mates, took part in a Dunlop 24 Hours tradition, namely a trip for the winners to podium on a camel. On the top step of the podium, Al Qubaisi was visibly emotional as the UAE national anthem echoed around Dubai Autodrome.
Afterwards Al Qubaisi spoke to the media, saying: “This was an amazing race and amazing win. My biggest win for sure. A very tough and very, very close race with many behind the scenes incidents. Our problems started early with an engine blow up in practice on the first day. Finding a spare engine was a tough job, but credit to the team they did it. Qualifying went well as we qualified where we wanted to and avoided any penalties.”
“It was really nerve wrecking for the whole 24 hours. We had a strategy which was compromised several times with the various Code 60 situations, which played in favour of our rivals. This was annoying and had us nervous. It was really close all the time. Even after we took the lead with five hours to go we were chased hard. Only a few seconds separated the top three for several hours. Like I said, very nerve wrecking.”
“We remained confident and disciplined early on in the race and stuck to the game plan, when others were leading and setting a fast pace. It’s hard to explain our strategy paid off, then things started falling into place and we found we had a comfortable lead.”
“I did the last stint, but I was not nervous at all. The time went fast in the cockpit and I did what I needed to do. We opted to stay safe, I made sure to bring it home. I was very careful, avoided any trouble and in the end it was easy because of the great team work done earlier in the race. I did not feel the pressure or stress, I actually enjoyed it. We broke the record of laps for this event and it is great.”
“It shows that we in the UAE are capable of putting a team together of the highest standard, competing with the best and beating the best. We were up against top professional drivers from all around the world. And we showed we can do it. Now we need to get the people behind us, so we can be proud to win for the UAE.”
“There were six or seven teams that could have easily won the race, all with high calibre drivers. Wining against such a top quality field makes it even better.”
“It is fantastic to win this race on my home soil. Dubai Autodrome is a great track, very challenging. It has become one of the top tracks and in the region. We really enjoy racing here, and winning even better.”
The Abu Dhabi Black Falcon team completed 628 laps, a new event record, around the 5.39 km circuit near Motorcity, and for Mercedes it was a sweet triumph as they also finished second and third with the pair of Heico Motorsport cars finishing second and third respectively.
Bernd Schneider was on duty in the cockpit of both cars. He said after the race, “It was a great race. Not often can you be second and third in the same race. But we did it and I am very pleased for Mercedes and Heico team. Really a perfect race.”
In the second place Heico car Schneider was teamed up with maximilian Buhk, Christian Frankenhout, Max Milsson and Andreas Zuber and in the thrid placed car he shared the cockpit with Kenneth Heyer, Andreas Simonsen and Rodolfo Gonzalez.
Finishing just off the podium, in fourth, was last years winning Saudi Falcons by Schubert BMW Z4 GT3 with Prince Abdulaziz Al Faisal and Claudia Hurtgen, Edward Sandstrom and Jorg Muller. in the line-up. The car with the number one plate chased hard all race long and at one stage was challenging strongly for a podium. In the end they had to settle for fourth place.
Fifth across the finish line was the Fach Auto Tech 2 Porsche 997 GT3, followed by Stadler Motorsport Porsche 997 GT3 in sixth, Gravity Charouz Racing Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 in seventh and eighth place going to the Reiter Lamborghini Gallardo LP600.
Local boys LAP57 Racing Team tooped off a great result for UAE in second place in the A2 class with thier trusy Honda Integra Type R driven by Mohammed Al Owais, Umair Khan, Rupesh Channake, Saeed Al Mehairi and Omran Al Owais