Dubai, UAE, 11 January 2019: Sheikh Juma Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, HE Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi (Chairman of the General Sports Authority) and a host of special dignitaries, including rally legend Mohammed Ben Sulayem, attended the official start to the 14th Hankook 24H Dubai on Friday afternoon.
The VIP guests were met by Dubai Autodrome General Manager Faisal Al Sahlawi and then they enjoyed the traditional grid walk which proceeds the main endurance race.
Sheikh Juma Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum and HE Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi conducted the honorary start of the race, setting the massive grid of cars into action with the waving of UAE flags.
In the openings laps the #88 Audi R8 LMS of Car Collection Motorsport immediately went on the attack to chase down the polesitter, the #63 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of GRT Grasser Racing Team.
After 179 laps the orange Audi, with drivers Dimitri Parhofer, Christophe Haase, Frederic Vervisch and Rik Breukers were firmly in control of the race with another Audi, the #7 car of MS7 by WRT giving chase.
The pole sitters have not fared well thus far; the green Lamborghini has tumbled down the grid and is languishing in 13th place.
The #3 Black Falcon is in third, having made an impressive run from ninth at the start. Emirati racer Khaled Al Qubaisi is in contention for a historic third victory in this event, having won with Black Falcon teams in 2012 and 2013.
The race runs through the night, with pit crews working tirelessly on well-drilled pit stops to ensure quick driver changes. Team mechanics will be on constant standby to make sure their cars can make it to the end of this demanding race.
Report: Aaron Meriwether
Photos: Arthur Rosales, Darren Rycroft and Aaron Meriwether