Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG wins rain-shortened Hankook 24H Dubai
The Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#4), led by Khaled Al Qubaisi from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with teammates Ben Barker from the UK, Hubert Haupt and Manuel Metzger from Germany and Jeroen Bleekemolen from the Netherlands, was confirmed as the overall winner of the 15th edition of the Hankook 24H Dubai on Saturday (11 January) at Dubai Autodrome.
For the first time in the event’s history, the full duration couldn’t be completed. Heavy rainfall and standing water prompted race control to red-flag the race after 7h17m. Despite the best efforts by staff and officials, continuing rainfall throughout the night and the morning prevented any further action. It was decided not to continue the race for safety reasons, a decision fully accepted and unanimously applauded by everyone in the paddock and pit lane.
The first part of the race saw entertaining on-track action, but after five hours, the intensity of the rain increased, leading to more and more water on the track and in the run-off areas. At 22.17 race control decided to interrupt the race with the red flag and all cars were parked on the main straight.
Rain continued throughout the night, affecting not only the infrastructure of Dubai Autodrome, but also the entire city of Dubai and the rest of the Emirates. At 7.00 in the morning, after thorough analyses of the situation, it was decided in mutual consent by race control, Dubai Autodrome and CREVENTIC not to resume the race on grounds of safety.
At the time the red flag came out, the Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#4, Khaled Al Qubaisi / Hubert Haupt / Ben Barker / Manuel Metzger / Jeroen Bleekemolen) was leading the race with 168 laps completed. Therefore the team was confirmed as the winner of the race, claiming its record fifth win in the history of the Hankook 24H Dubai after previous victories in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2018. It was also the fifth Dubai race win for Mercedes-AMG.
Khaled Al Qubaisi, Hubert Haupt and Jeroen Bleekemolen now all are three-time winners of the event. Khaled Al Qubaisi, from the UAE, was behind the wheel when the race was stopped.
“Conditions were extremely difficult, there were puddles everywhere,” Al Qubaisi reported. “It is a pity we can’t continue, but there is no doubt that stopping the race is the right decision. Safety comes first.”