Representing the Autobacs Super GT Series and Pirelli Super Taikyu Series, D’station Racing battled back through two early tyre punctures to finish 13th overall, and 6th in the A6-Pro class, in the Dubai 24 Hours at Dubai Autodrome – the most prestigious pro-am GT & touring car event on the calendar.
The #20 D’station Porsche 911 GT3-R, driven by gentleman driver Satoshi Hoshino, Tomonobu Fujii, Seiji Ara, and Tsubasa Kondo completed 587 laps, ultimately finishing 19 laps down from the eventual winners at Black Falcon Motorsports – but completing all 24 hours of racing and putting in a respectable effort in their first time at the event.
After the early punctures, the D’station crew set to work on regaining the ground that they’d lost within the first 6 hours of the race.
Fujii, the team’s Super GT ace, was their quick man in the night hours, posting the car’s fastest lap of the race on their 308th lap with a 2:00.611.
But it was young Kondo, the former Porsche Carrera Cup and Toyota 86/BRZ Race champion, who was D’station’s “iron man” as he did 207 of the team’s laps – including a 55-lap stint in the early hours on Saturday morning.
Bookended by former Le Mans champion Ara starting the race, and gentleman racer Hoshino taking the chequered flag at the end of the 24 hours, the D’station Racing crew took home a respectable result against the more experienced and established teams at this event.
Sven Müller, who raced with D’station Racing in Super GT last season, was in contention to win the race outright for Manthey Racing, but as the sun dawned on Dubai, their #12 Porsche 911 GT3-R suffered braking and hydraulic issues that cost them two laps and relegated them to a second-place finish.
The #2 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Abdulaziz Al-Faisal, Hubert Haupt, Yelmer Buurman, and Gabriele Piana, went on to take the victory, Black Falcon’s fourth in this rapidly growing event that has become the centerpiece of endurance racing in the Middle East/West Asia region.
Fellow Super GT competitors Gulf Racing Japan were less fortunate in the A6-Am category, in a weekend that could have ended prematurely with Kimihiro Yashiro injured his arm in a night practice crash – leaving the team to start from pit lane.
Yashiro, Hisashi Kunie, Nicholas Saelens, Philipp Sager, and Bashar Mardini valiantly tried to race back from their pit lane start, but a number of setbacks during the race saw them lose several hours in the garage. They would complete just 468 laps, finishing 68th overall and 14th in class.
Elsewhere in the field, Super GT alumni Jean-Karl Vernay led Liqui Moly Team Engstler to a victory in the ultra-competitive TCR category. The former Honda GT500 driver from 2014 joined Luca Engstler, Florian Thoma, and Benjamin Leuchtner in the victory for their #130 Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR.
They completed 556 laps and finished 24th overall, the best of the touring car runners.
Feature image credit: Peter “Pedro” May / DailySportsCar.com.