Dubai, UAE, 16 January 2021: Hometown heroes GPX Racing, with drivers Axcil Jefferies, Frederic Fatien, Mathieu Jaminet, Julien Andlauer and Alain Ferté triumphed over a talented international grid to win the 2021 Hankook 24H Dubai at Dubai Autodrome on Saturday (16 January).
The GPX Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R (#36) qualified in fourth position, but within hours of the race start on Friday (15 January) the UAE team took control of the contest from polesitter Precote Herberth Motorsport (#92).
The GPX Racing Porsche held a tight grip on the lead throughout the race, averaging a two-lap advantage over the rest of the pack. However, in the final hour, Emirati ace Khaled Al Qubaisi of HRT Bilstein (#4) pushed his Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo to the limit and closed the gap on the frontrunner.
Al Qubaisi, a record three-time 24H Dubai winner, had Axcil Jefferies of GPX Racing in his sights but couldn’t manage to chase the Porsche down. The yellow number four Mercedes ducked into the pits to let teammate Maro Engel have a go. This also allowed Dries Vanthoor of WRT (#31) to move up into second position with his Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo to join the hunt.
Jefferies, a resident racer who knows the 5.39-kilometres of tarmac at Dubai Autodrome quite well, held off all challengers to bring the car home, taking the chequered flag after 24 hours of endurance racing and racking up 600 laps for GPX Racing, one lap ahead of WRT’s Vanthoor. Engel was another 28.958 seconds behind Vanthoor to claim third-place for HRT Bilstein.
“It’s fantastic and I’m so happy for the team,” Axcil Jefferies remarked. “The guys worked so hard this whole week – they rebuilt the car two or three times – and they believed in us, so it’s great to reward them.
With the Porsche victory, German machinery maintains a perfect record in Dubai, having won all 16 editions of the Hankook 24H Dubai. Italy’s best bet to break Teutonic dominance was the green Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO of GRT Grasser Racing Team (#63), but a P4 finish left the raging bull with yet another year to ponder an upset.
Fabian Danz completed the race for TOPCAR Sport (#131), with the Cupra TCR DSG finishing 17th overall and topping the TCE Category. Danz and teammates Adrian Spescha, Patrick Sing, Ronny Jost and Benjamin Leuchter did well to move up from seventh position in TCE qualifying to finish out with a class victory and the second TCE win in a row for the Swiss team.
Following the race Danz said, “Our car was perfect, has no scratches, and was running so well. But it’s never easy. During the night you do wonder, ‘why am I doing this?’, but it was really worth it! I’m so happy!”
Report: Aaron Meriwether
Photos: Aaron Meriwether & Hashim Idris