January 15, 2019
The Dubai 24 Hours was introduced to the Motorsport Calendar back in 2006 and over its twelve-year history has seen some of the best in the business both compete in the event. Drivers who have gone on to take overall victories include the likes of Brendon Hartley, Toto Wolff, Augusto Farfus, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Oliver Webb and Laurens Vanthoor amongst many more who have just been on the entry list!
This year there were in excess of 70 teams entered across all classes with 13 cars in the GT4 class. With the news announced that Tom will be racing in the British GT Championship for a second season this year the Dubai 24 would give Tom some valuable time in a car to get himself in shape for the season opener in April.
Despite having never seen the track before Tom very quickly got to grips with the Dubai Autodrome circuit and helped the team go on to qualify 5th place. Of course, for any team the first goal in a 24-hour race is to first finish successfully, but they certainly had the pace to take a podium finish too.
However, an unfortunate start to the race saw the team on the back foot from the off dropping all the way down to 11th place after the first hour with lots of ground to make up. But heads did not drop and a fantastic from all four drivers saw the team not only back to where they started, but in the lead of the race with seven hours complete.
Big problems then hit and the team were all of a sudden down to 12th place and some 21 laps behind the class leaders with 16 hours remaining. Over the next eight hours Tom and the team got themselves up to 10th place stabilizing the gap to the leaders at 21 laps with 7 laps to the next team.
After a huge fight back Tom and the team had made places once again with 18 hours to move up to 8th place, but there was now an 11 lap gap to 7th. It wasn’t until the final hour that more changes were made as other teams hit problems and with the Century Motorsport BMW coming home safe they would recover to finish in a respectable 7th place.
For Tom, the Dubai 24 Hours was very much a case of what could have been. They set some race winning pace and could have at least had a podium had they not hit any problems. However, they should great courage to continue fighting back and finish 7th with 525 laps to their name.
Ahead of a big season this was a fantastic experience for Tom who got to share the car and track with some big names in the sport and has only continued to grow his profile overseas all of which could help open even more doors in the coming months and years.
Luke Watts – 1st
A superb performance saw Luke storm to take a 15 second victory and his first win of the season in Mini X30. A positive start ahead of a big season for Luke who has just jumped out of the Cadet classes.
Kian Bennett – 8th
A positive weekend for Kian who gained six places to finish 8th showing race winning pace! If not for an unfortunate heat two which saw Kian muscled back from the front of the grid to 11th things could have been very different but it is nevertheless a great start to the season.
It was a great weekend off track for Jem Hepworth as she picked up the Downforce UK Henry Surtees Teen Racer of the Year Award! A brilliant way to get the 2019 season started