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Category: 24 Hours of Dubai

Josh CaygillVolkswagen racer Josh Caygill got his 2014 season off to a sensational beginning this past weekend in the annual Dunlop 24 Hour Dubai race as part of the five-driver KPM Racing squad, claiming the runner-up spot in the D1 Class on his endurance racing debut.

Providing the perfect start to only his second year in saloon car competition, the former motorcycle racer from Netherton in West Yorkshire was thrilled with his performance during the twice-around-the-clock encounter at Dubai Autodrome in the United Arab Emirates.

Partnering Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship front-runner Tom Onslow-Cole, sportscar competitors Paul White and Javier Morcillo and 2013 APR Volkswagen Racing Cup Champion Aaron Mason, Caygill shone despite a race which was less than straightforward for the KPM team.

Piloting a diesel powered Mk6 Volkswagen Golf, the quintet started the challenging 24 Hour contest on Friday, 10th January, second in class before moving into the D1 lead at approximately three hours’ duration. Although a time penalty led to a slip down the order, a determined fightback resulted in the team regaining the class lead just after mid-distance.

The drama didn’t end there, though, when contact with a rival car, when Mason was at the wheel, necessitated an entire rebuild of the front of the Golf TDi to repair a failed upright. Rejoining from a lengthy pit-stop fourth in class, with Caygill in the driving seat, the British squad mounted a superb recovery and ultimately finished second in class – even with a late gearbox issue.

“It feels fantastic to have been part of this event and team, to take a podium finish in our first 24 Hour race is incredible”, said the elated 24-year-old Caygill at the conclusion on Saturday, “The KPM and RAM Racing guys put in a world class effort, the team spirit was fantastic and we couldn’t have asked for anything more – they did us proud.

“The car was great to drive, it is a shame we had the gearbox problem at the end but we made up positions, showed our stamina and we’re really happy with second place in class. The night-time stint was exhilarating, to say the least, but the whole experience was mind-blowing to be honest. Endurance racing in GT cars is definitely something I would like to do more of as my career develops.”

Next on the racing schedule for Caygill will be the opening round of the 2014 APR Volkswagen Racing Cup at Oulton Park in Cheshire on Easter Monday, 21st April, where he will contest his second season in the category in a new Volkswagen Scirocco.

In addition to his UK racing commitments, the ex-British Supersport rider will also make his full European saloon car debut this year in the Volkswagen Scirocco R Cup. Hockenheim in Germany will host the first event of his maiden campaign in the series on 3rd/4th May.

Visit www.joshcaygill.com for all the latest news and follow him on Twitter @Joshracer14

Adam ChristodoulouBritish racer Adam Christodoulou started the season by charging into the first race of the 2014 with an incredible performance at the wheel of the Team Black Falcon Mercedes SLS GT3.

The season started early for the former British Formula Renault Champion; only ten days into the new year and he was already on the grid of the first twenty four hour marathon drive of the season. The race would be in amongst the hot, arid deserts of the United Arab Emirates, on the 5.4 kilometre circuit of the Dubai Autodrome.

Expectations were high. Team Black Falcon had outstanding form at this event in the past two years – outright winners twice – and were seeking to achieve the hat trick in 2014.

Christo would be sharing the drive with four co-drivers; Khaled Al Qubaisi (Abu Dhabi), Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands), Abdulaziz Turki Al Faisal (Saudi Arabia) and Hubert Haupt (Germany).

With five drivers to rotate through, it was always going to be tough to get everyone out for a good stint during testing, but each driver got their opportunity during the night practice session and as part of qualification for the race.

Good pace during both day and night practices were promising signs.

Qualifying followed, starting on Thursday afternoon, and it was pretty tough in the heat. Even so, the team chalked up a respectable 4th place overall on Friday afternoon’s starting grid.

At 1.53pm, all seventy nine cars lined up on the tarmac. There was a two minute silence before the get-go, and in the standing heat the temperature was now approaching 30 degrees and the pressure was starting to really mount.

The track was dusty. Slight winds blew a constant thin film of desert sand across black stuff, but finally at 1.55pm the cars we’re given to signal to get out on track for a few minutes ahead of the race. At 2.00pm, the official race start time, the lights finally switched to green and the race roared into life.

Christodoulou was the first driver out in the number 2 badge SLS, and into the first four corners, found himself jostling side-by-side with the number 3 badge Porsche before eventually dipping back into fourth place.

The car was performing well, and the first stint passed off smoothly. By lap four the team were already carving through lapped traffic. This set the tone for the rest of the race the drivers remained super-vigilant about avoiding contact with other vehicles as much as was humanly possible.

In the first pit stop Abdulaziz stepped in to replace Christodoulou. He too had a great run, and in turn he handed over to Hubert, then he to Khaled, then the wheel came back to Christodoulou once more.

Things had been progressing smoothly until what appeared to be some minor contact from an earlier stint wasn’t quite as insignificant as had first seemed, and it came back to haunt the team when the rear suspension had to be changed, and cost precious laps that dropped Team Black Falcon number 2 outside the top ten, and put the car over ten laps behind.

To compound problems, the passenger side Gullwing door opened mid-race, which caused a delay whilst the track marshals stepped in to get it closed again. And later that night the car encountered two high speed tyre blow-outs caused by debris on the track, and which also caused damage to the car. Yet the chase remained strong.

By sunrise the SLS was back into fifth, and not too longer after, had climbed back into third position. The mayhem had calmed somewhat, and the team were now sailing through the final stint of the race.

Khaled was back in the car, and with fifteen minutes to go with over two laps behind him and two laps in front of him to his nearest competitors, everything was looking positive. But fortunes can change so quickly out on track, and it was only through his skill and reactions that he managed to avoid the consequences of slower car during an overtaking manoeuvre that nearly put him in the pitwall. The end plate of the rear wing had clipped the barrier, but thankfully the car escaped what could have been a far worse outcome.

Khaled was able to get the car going once more, and nursed it around the final laps of the race.

The chequered flag fell, and Team Black Falcon finished the Dubai 24 hours in third place. The car had taken a battering, yet despite the setbacks, it was an incredible result that in such a condition the vehicle had taken the team to a podium result.

After the race, Christodoulou congratulated the team, “I want to say a huge thank you and congratulations to Team Black Falcon, all of our crew today, and all of my team mates for making it such a memorable race and getting us through all 597 laps! I hope we’re all able to be back again next year to compete in this great race together in 2015.”

GDL RacingGDL Racing missed a sensational result at the last 24H Dubai. Ravenna-based has lost the podium in the Middle-East race, thanks to an excellent recovery from the 23rd place with wich the Mercedes SLS shared by Gianluca De Lorenzi, Duncan Huisman, Luc Braams, Ivo Broukers moved to fourth taking the provisional AM class leadership.

Due to the contact occured to Broukers with only three hours to go and a consequent damage to the steering box, the Italian-Dutch team was forced to a stop and finished 28th. For the sixth year GDL Racing missed an other important result, as well as happened in 2010, 2011 with Porsche.

Different story for the Porsche 997 of Australian Paul and Ray Stubber, local Bashar Mardini and Hong Kong’s driver Nigel Farmer, that started third among the cars of their class before an axle problem forced them to pit for 42 minutes. GDL Racing car eventually recovered from 60th to 20th after replacing the gearbox.

A few places behind them the other GDL Racing Porsche of Australian John Iossifidis and Rob Thomson, Swiss Kurt Thiel and German Marco Schelp closed in 37th after having started from the back of the grid due to a contact in the qualifying. They recovered to the 4th class position for then moving back again.

2014 edition of 24H Dubai was definitively bitter-sweet for GDL Racing, looking forward the next participation to the other endurance races.

Isaac TutumluAnother historical result for the Spanish driver of Kurdish ancestry and Barzani Racing Team, finishing second in A6-Am class of the 24 hours of Dubai. Rhino´s Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 GT3 performed extremely well.

Isaac Tutumlu has finished second in his class at the finish of the 24 hours of Dubai, being 8th overall as well. Another outstanding result built on a superb performance coming from Tutumlu at night, as the Spanish driver of Kurdish roots drove faultless.

Barzani Racing Team driver took part in the race at the wheel of a Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 GT3 fielded by rhino´s Leipert Motorsport and teaming up with Oliver Webb, Jeroen Mul, Jan Stovicek and Yoshiharu Mori, a well-balanced team to tend towards the victory. Although the weekend didn´t start well, as an engine failure stopped them, Tutumlu stormed to pole position in qualifying, setting a lap of 2:05.006 in A6-Am class. It needs to be highlighted that Tutumlu couldn´t go faster than 2:05 or, otherwise, his team would have been classified as a Pro team, an handicap having two gentlemen drivers on board. In the race the Lamborghini Gallardo was in top-six almost ever and, from the halfway point, they did set themselves up as potential winners. At the end, Tutumlu carried out an exceptional stint, passing two cars and gaining back thirty seconds on the leader. Finally, just a few seconds prevent Tutumlu from winning.

“I´m delighted to be here this weekend. Our start was not that positive when our new engine experienced problems in the private test, but fortunately we had an exchange engine. Three engineers from Lamborghini and our team worked hard to solve it and our work proved to be effective. We already knew Dubai was a very difficult race, so our second place in class and 8th overall, taking into consideration there were more than 80 cars on the grid, is an amazing result”, Tutumlu explained, feeling very fatigued. So far, he points out “my unique previous experience was 24 hours of Barcelona some years ago. But this was much more demanding. I drove over eight hours, sleepless, and mostly at night. My last stint was quite good, passing two cars and just the need to save fuel prevented me to catch the leader. But anyway it was a great race and to be on the podium with my Kurdish flag was a memorable moment. My pole position was remarkable as well. All my thanks go to Barzani family, Kurdistan and my sponsors. Now I´m looking forward to Daytona, for sure it will be another milestone moment of the season with plenty of excitement. This race will be a bigger challenge, as the PC car is more physically demanding”.

Craft AMRIt was only one year ago when Hong Kong’s Craft Racing AMR made their first appearance at an International 24 hour endurance race. It was a tremendous week as they walked away finishing above even their own expectations to capture the biggest result in the team’s history, 3rd place overall at the 24 hours of Dubai.

This year, Craft Racing AMR will return to Dubai a stronger team with bigger ambitions and ready for an all-out assault for overall victory. Entering 2 Aston Martin Vantage GT3’s, the team lines-up with two stellar driver line-ups, a more mature racing team, and strong support from Aston Martin Racing.

Leading the charge in the #07 is one of the strongest line-ups in the field, with 2 Aston Martin factory drivers Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke, paired with Hong Kong’s Darryl O’Young and Japan’s Tomonobu Fujii. They were close to victory last year, and come back hungrier than ever to take the top step of the podium.

In the #17 Craft Racing AMR entry, Hong Kong GT Driver Frank Yu returns to the race alongside Frenchman Jean-Marc Merlin. The pair carry with them tremendous experience at Dubai and will be ready to face the field paired with two top professionals, Britain’s Richard Lyons and Japan’s Keita Sawa. All out speed may not be the top priority in #17, but a consistent race plan may make them the dark-horse of the race.

Mark Goddard, Team Principle: “The team is really pumped to be back at Dubai and our aim is to get on the top step of the podium with one of our Aston Martin Vantage GT3 cars. Last year Dubai was our first 24 hour race and we were thrilled to finish third overall. We now have two cars with great driver line-ups and this, plus our previous experience at Dubai, gives us great confidence that we can achieve a good result again this year.”

Darryl O’Young, Driver #07: “I’m very proud of what Craft Racing has accomplished in 2013, as I’ve seen first-hand the hard work that has gone into it. 2014 is a new year and everyone is focused to take the next big step forward. Dubai 24 hours is one of the toughest challenges of the year due to the large number of entries and high traffic, so staying focused on not making mistakes is the single most important thing. This race will serve as great preparation for Craft Racing AMR ahead of the Le Mans 24 later this year in June.

Darren Turner, Driver #07: “We learned from last year that this race has a large field and a high level of competition. The strategy is very different to races in the WEC or in America, so that should play a big factor into the race result. I’m looking forward to returning to Craft Racing AMR as they have a great group of guys, and hopefully I can help the team to achieve success.”

Stefan Muecke, Driver #07: “Great to be back in Dubai where I first started driving for Craft Racing last year and finished 3rd. This year, we want to be on the top step! A 24hr race is always a big challenge especially with so many cars in different classes like in Dubai.”

Tomonobu Fujii, Driver #07: “I’m really happy to join again the Craft Racing AMR for the 24Hrs DUBAI this year. It will be the 2nd time for me racing at Dubai and also the working with their great drivers. It has been clear to me that Craft racing AMR has a strong package and I look forward to driving their V12 vantage GT3. We will try our best as usual and give it a good go for the victory!!”

Keita Sawa, Driver #17: “I really appreciate joining a great team like Craft racing AMR. I’m proud that I have become a part of this team and for sure I will use all my experience to help the team succeed. I feel really excited for the big race, Dubai 24. I think this week will be good preparation for the Le Mans 24h in June! I’m sure both of our cars have the potential to finish the tough race as the team has prepared well.”

Richard Lyons, Driver #17: “I’m really looking forward to my first 24hr race and first time to drive in Dubai. It’s great to join with Craft Racing AMR again and hope we can take up where we left off our last outing in Asia with another win!”

Jean-Marc Merlin, Driver #17: “This will be my 8th time racing at the Dubai 24hrs and I have been impressed by the continuing improvement of the field. After a year in a LMP2 in the WEC, I am looking forward to adapting back to the GT3 in the best and most desirable car in the field. I want to thank Frank Yu and Craft Racing for giving me the opportunity to join his team and to partner with such a great driver line-up.”

John Gaw, Aston Martin Racing Managing Director: “2013 was a great year for Craft Racing that ended with the now 2 car partner team with an entry to the Le Mans 24 hours this year, but it all started with a 3rd place finish at the Dubai 24 hours. They return stronger this year after a year of terrific results in GT Asia, the Asian Le Mans Series and at Macau in the GT Cup. Both cars have experienced driver line ups with strength in depth and the car crew will be sharp following just a short break following the last race at Sepang only a few weeks ago. Overall victory is not an easy target with an increased level of competition at this the first major event of 2014, but it is surely the objective for Craft Racing and AMR look forward to giving them the best support possible.”

Frank Yu, Team Founder and Driver #17: “We finished 2013 by winning an entry to Le Mans, so we hope to start the New Year off with a strong result in Dubai. The race continues to grow in competition and stature, which is why we committed to a two car entry this year. We welcome Jean-Marc Merlin to our team, and welcome back all the remaining drivers which have contributed to Craft Racing’s success in 2013. Having everyone together in a single event is a perfect way to start a new season.”

Craft Racing AMRHong Kong racing team Craft Racing AMR, completed a stellar performance in their Aston Martin Vantage GT3 this past weekend in the 24 hours of Dubai to give the team a stunning 3rd place overall out of an international 85-car field, completing 594 laps of the Dubai Autodrome. It was an exciting race from beginning to end with Craft Racing AMR taking their Aston Martin Vantage GT3 up to 3rd place in the final hour of the grueling 24 hour endurance race.

The Hong Kong team was led by Hong Kong racing drivers Frank Yu and Darryl O’Young, together with Tomonobu Fujii of Japan and Aston Martin works drivers Stefan Mucke and Darren Turner. All drivers drove well making absolutely no mistakes throughout the entire race weekend to help the team earn this result.

The green flag dropped for the 24 hours of Dubai on Friday January 11th at 2pm with Craft Racing AMR starting the race in 3rd position overall. After facing some bad luck during safety car periods and enduring a couple minor technical issues, the team found themselves down as low as 22nd place in the early part of the race.

However, the team never gave up and fought back up the field getting involved in several on track battles throughout the entire 24 hours. The team made perfect pit stops and the drivers drove quick lap times, which included Stefan Mucke putting down the fastest lap of the entire race with a lap time of 1:59.47 seconds.

Craft Racing AMR slowly climbed back up the leader board and held 5th place for several hours through the night. As the sun rose at 7am, the team made a further push forward and in the final hour of the race, stormed past the German Fachs Auto Tech Porsche to grab the coveted podium spot.

This result gives Hong Kong its first-ever international endurance race overall podium, an achievement the team is extremely proud of.

Frank Yu, team founder and Hong Kong race driver said, “This result is for Hong Kong, we have worked extremely hard over the past few months to prepare for this race and it has proved very successful, this result is a dream come true. It was our teams first ever attempt at the Dubai 24 hours and our target was to finish the race, but being on the podium is a major bonus. A special thanks to Aston Martin Racing who gave our team valuable support throughout the race week, and also to the drivers who avoided mistakes during the entire 24 hours and this contributed hugely to the podium finish!”

Team Principle Mark Goddard added, “It was a remarkable race! We focused on team work from the outset of this weekend, as we knew we had great and reliable racecar in the Aston Martin Vantage GT3. Minimizing mistakes was the key to this success and I’m extremely proud of all the drivers, team engineers and mechanics as minimizing mistakes was exactly what we did. We have to thank all the team sponsors this weekend and a special thank you to John Gaw from Aston Martin Racing as they gave us the support we needed, including their two AMR works drivers Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke who drove stunningly.”

Hong Kong’s top GT race driver Darryl O’Young, made his debut for Craft Racing AMR and the Dubai 24 hours this weekend, “This race was suspenseful for the entire 24 hours. Craft Racing AMR is a great team and its fantastic to be a part of this Hong Kong racing outfit. The team was determined to comeback and the final 10 hours of the race were flawless. This gave us the chance to claw back up the leader board and when the opportunity came in the final hour of the race, we grabbed it and never looked back. I’m very proud of the entire team and this is a brilliant result for Hong Kong and China.”

The next outing for Craft racing AMR will be the inaugural race of the Asian Le Mans Series scheduled for May 5, 2013 in Zhu Hai, China. The team’s Aston Marting Vantage GT3 will be shipped back to its base in Zhu Hai in preparation for the season.

Craft Racing AMRThe first major endurance race of 2013 kicks off next week at the 8th running of the 24 Hours of Dubai where Hong Kong race team, Craft Racing AMR will be one of two Asian teams to take the green flag in the 85 car field at the Dubai Autodrome. Behind the wheel of the Aston Martin Vantage GT3, this 24 hour race will be a perfect warm up for Craft Racing AMR as they prepare their 2 car attack in the up coming 2013 Asian Le Mans Series which begins in May.

Craft Racing AMR has years of experience in motorsport but this will be their first attempt in the 24 hours of Dubai. They come equipped with a strong group of engineers and Asian technicians, combined with an ultra experienced driver line-up in Works AMR driver Darren Turner of Great Britain, WTCC and GT ace Darryl O’Young of Hong Kong, Super GT 300 race winner Tomonobu Fujii of Japan, and GT Asia race winner and Craft Racing team founder Frank Yu of Hong Kong.

Although this race is fairly new compared to some of the famous long distance races around the world, it has grown in stature each and every year seeing many of the World’s top drivers and teams join since its inauguration in 2006.

When asked what the challenging factors of the race would be, Darren Turner believed traffic would be a factor on the 5.39km Dubai Autodrome. “Having started the Nürburgring 24 Hours with over 200 cars, 85 doesn’t sound so much,” he explained. “Mind you Dubai is a standard-length Grand Prix track so that’s going to make it tremendously busy, especially with so many different levels of machinery. The hardest thing will be judging closing speeds and keeping up that focus for 24 hours.”

Team principal Mark Goddard followed up that teamwork could be the determining aspect of the race. “With so many teams in the paddock and on the race track, mistakes are highly likely to occur. As a team we will have to work hard to minimize these mistakes by taking a cautious approach in traffic, and pulling together as a team in the pit stops to ensure we get the car back onto the track quickly and without any errors for the entire 24 hours. I am confident with our experienced drive line-up and technicians that a strong result is achievable.”

Practice begins on Wednesday with qualifying set to take place on Thursday afternoon. The 24 hour race begins on Friday January 11th at 2pm in Dubai, all the live action can be followed on the official website at www.24hdubai.com starting January 10th.