On the 12th January 2013, Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon made history by winning the Dubai 24 hour race twice in a row. For the second year running the SLS AMG GT3 took the top place on the podium after one of the toughest weeks in the team’s history.
Starting with testing on Wednesday, all was well with the two cars entered for Friday’s race. The pace was good, the set up working well and the drivers were happy. However, this equilibrium was soon brought to an end. Towards the end of the Wednesday practice, the session was stopped for a Red flag. The news over the radio told the team that sadly the car bearing Number One had spun at Turn 5 and crashed heavily into the barrier. With great thanks, the driver was unhurt, a testament to the strength and safety of the SLS AMG GT3!
With the car recovered to the pits it was immediately obvious that this chassis would never roll again. Various options were explored, with the support of AMG and in the end the personal relationship that AMG Bernd Schneider has with rival team Preci Spark, negotiations began to find a way the Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon could acquire their spare car.
Time was of the essence, as the team would have to strip the crashed car and build up the replacement chassis in 24 hours.
With thanks to the Jones brothers and the Preci Spark team a deal was struck and by 9pm Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon had a replacement chassis. With qualifying beginning at 5pm the next day, it would be a sleepless night ahead for the mechanics.
Through a quite unbelievable force of team work from the Black Falcon mechanics, lead by the never tiring power of chief mechanic Marvin Wagner, car Number One rose from the ashes and was able to dominate qualifying taking pole position by a healthy margin over its rivals.
Step one complete, but the car was only half ready to take on a full 24-hour race. Yet another sleepless night ahead as the mechanics toiled away to get this car ready. After all this we just could not fail now!
With the race starting at 1400 on Friday 11th January, it was becoming heart achingly close that the car would be ready. The team continued to work calmly and methodically to ensure every screw was done up properly, every measurement was accurate and that this car would not fail. It was a testament to the incredible team work, that only seconds before the race started, car Number One was in position, on the ground and ready to start the race. It should be mentioned that under normal circumstances after a rebuild of this type, a car we require a roll out before being used at race pace. This was now just not possible. Some fingers would need to be crossed!
In car Number Two, Andreas Simonsen had a fantastic start, pulling the car from 14th in qualifying up to seventh and well within sight of the leaders. Throughout the race there was numerous Code 60 “safety car” situations, from which the team seemed to almost always find not to be in their favour. Several times having only just passed the pit entry before a Code 60 began, or being stuck in traffic at the fuel pumps or just being behind a driver on the track driving 40 kmh, which on one occasion lost the team a full 90 seconds from their competitors. All in all the frustrations were mounting as the team fought to the front and then lost positions because of the Code 60.
Despite all this, by the half-way mark, car One occupied Position One and car Two thanks to the hard work of Khaled Al Qubaisi, Andreas Simonsen, Sergei Afanasiev, Simon Knap and Steve Jans, had puled itself up to Position two, behind its sister car.
However, their luck would not remain and throughout the night, car Two sustained a number of contacts with other cars until, despite the strong build of the SLS, the team had to bring the car into the pit garage for repair.
This was very sad as the mechanics and drivers had all been working hard and with great success, pushing the car for a definite podium finish. Losing 20 laps in the pit box, dropped car Two out of the top ten and out of contention for a podium. Therefore it become the new goal to finish as high up the top ten as possible and from here on in the divers would have to push hard.
With only one hour to go, Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon had once again taken complete control of the race.
The main competitors had gradually fallen away with problems of their own and car Number One driven by Khaled Al Qubaisi, Bernd Schneider, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Sean Edwards took an emphatic win at 1400 on Saturday the 12th January.
Driving into Parc Fermé, Khaled once again jumped onto the bonnet of the car, shrouded in a UAE flag and unable to contain his emotion after this incredible story. Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon, back-to-back winners of the Dubai 24 hours!
For car Number Two, the fight back through the field had been metronomic and the drivers pulled the car into a respectable 7th place overall. Sadly not the result the guys had worked so hard to achieve, but with the confidence and knowledge that they can fight for top honors in 2014.
Marvin Wagner, technical director Black Falcon: „The title defence was not easy for us. I am very proud of my team, which showed that it works professional and focused also in difficult conditions. We did not had any technical problems on all three Black Falcon cars during the whole 24 hours and gained the victory as a reward.”
Also the Porsche 997 Cup GT3 entered by Black Falcon Team TMD Friction was managing its own up and downs during the Dubai 24 hours event. After setting the fastest Qualifying time in the 997-class with 2:03.944 Christian von Rieff, Christian Raubach, Burkard Kaiser, Erwin Stückle and Patrick Huisman started from position 15 overall and first in class, alongside the SLS #2. During the opening stages of the race, the Black Falcon Porsche #44 was the leading non-GT3-car in the field and always in the Top Twenty. Unfortunately after 8 hours of racing, another car hit #44 and the car had to return to the pits for repairs. The team worked feverishly to repair the car but sadly this meant two hours in the pit and #44 rejoined the race in position 57. During the night there was more drama as the team had to manage a second accident caused by a competitor. From the early morning the car #44 drove lap after lap from position 42 up to 28 overall and finished on position 5 in the class 997. In the last lap Christian von Rieff managed to drive next to the Black Falcon SLS #1 and crossed the checkered flag alongside the winning car for a team photo finish.
Sean Paul Breslin, Black Falcon SLS Team manager:
“We came to defend the victory. We have suffered a lot. We never gave up. And now we’ve done it.
After an excellent, self-sacrificing team performance our drivers have achieved the maximum and won for the second time in a row this prestigious race.
We are speechless, overjoyed and can not even believe it. Thanks to everyone who made this possible and especially to all the fans and supporters who have kept their fingers crossed.”
Jan Derenbach, Black Falcon Porsche Team manager:
“Unfortunately we had some bad luck with our Porsche during the race and had to handle two accidents which were caused by the mistakes of competitors. But in the first part of the race we showed that we are also competitive with our Porsche 997 Cup. I want to thank the mechanics and drivers who did a great job and I am very proud that we were able to defend the title.”