Race report from Hankook 24h in Dubai

2016 - Simon Larsson in Dubai 24H

I have done my first Endurance race ever with the RTG Gladysz Racing team in the seat Leon Supercopa, we drove in the A3 class and managed to finish third in our class!
I really can’t understand and believe what I just have done the last week, I can’t understand how well it really went and that we really managed to get on the podium in the hardest Edition of Dubai 24h ever.

Simon in dubaiOn the 9th of January I flew down to Dubai to drive my first ever endurance race, Dubai 24h 11th edition. I had 3 days of just relaxing in the calm before the storm and enjoying Dubai. Wednesday and Thursday was all about just getting a feeling for the track and to refresh the memory how to drive the Seat Leon Supercopa car. The first time I drove on Dubai Autodrome was in a rental car on the rental training. Robertas Kupčikas did our qualification and he managed to get us a P2 for the start. After the qualification we had night practice and it was my first time ever driving on a race track in the dark. There was four really fast teams and we knew that it will be a great competition in the race, we were the second fastest team.

On the 15th of January it was finally time for the race. 99 cars were lining up on the track since 1 car was already out. It was a huge field of cars but Robertas managed to keep the car in perfect shape. I was up as fifth driver so my first stint in this race would be in the night. But at the time Jerzy Dudek was driving something happend to the car. It was something with the gearbox, everyone in the team had been driving for two hours, then Jerzy only drove one hour and the car started to break down. After more than 1 hour and 20 minutes in the pitbox the mechanics had changed the whole gearbox and it was time for me to drive. After 5 laps the car was starting to go into neutral by it self and then locked into this position. It was impossible to change gear and I had to stop on the track and turn on and off the car multiple times before it worked. After my first 2 hour stint I had been driving forth and back into the pit about 10 times. After losing 3 hours we fell back in the list from P1 to P4. I was very sad that something like this happen and I thought that it was already over, but it was still 14 hours to go, and finally the mechanics found the problem and the car was working perfect again. Around 8 o’clock I did my second stint and it went perfect, the car was perfect and running like a clock and my lap times were almost the same every lap for 2 hours. After my stint we were closing up to P2 but we were still 25 laps behind them and we only had 4 hours left. It was impossible for us to managed to drive so fast that we would pass the P2 if they didn’t crashed or had some problems with their car. The last 4 hours were very stable for every car in our class and everyone was just driving constantly for the last four hours and crossed the checkered flag.

 

Even with the gearbox change and the struggle in my first stint we managed to get on the podium and I am very satisfied with that. I was very happy how I managed to drive fast and consequent every lap for two hours and extremely glad for getting on the podium. My main goal was just to finish the race but to get on the podium was a great achivment by it self. I would like to thank the wonderful mechanics who did a great job when fixing the car so fast and figuring out what was wrong and was a big part to our great succses in the Dubai 24H race.

 

I have a lot of new experience from this race and I love the endurance racing, but I still think that sprint races are more fun and much more intense even if endurance racing was great. I really hope to be able to compete in some more endurance racing in the future.