Monday, January 19, 2015

2015 24 HOURS OF DUBAI - A Special Kind of Dubai

#2 Black Falcon SLS AMG piloted by Arab Abdulaziz Al Faisal, German Hubert Haupt, Dutch Yelmer Buurman and English Oliver Webb that took this year's outright victory in the 2015-running 24 Hours of Dubai. (Image: Autocar India)
Finally the first legitimate post of my blog in 2015! I know, it's technically the second post of 2015, I just put that for the sake of randomness. Randomness aside, though, the first wave of events have passed. You have the Dakar rally that has recently finished hours ago at the time of this post, and then there were award shows like People's Choice Awards and Golden Globe Awards, yet there also was the 2015 24 Hours of Dubai, the tenth running 24-hour race event involving grand tourers, touring cars and endurance specials, battling it out for class victory. The race was won by the #2 Black Falcon SLS AMG driven by Arab Abdulaziz Al Faisal, German Hubert Haupt, Dutch Yelmer Buurman and English Oliver Webb, with the team's other success is the 1-2 in the 997 class, with the lady luck weren't on last year's winner Stadler Motorsport's favor due to an accident that eventually ended their run with 61 laps of mileage.

Yet, the more I think about the Dubai 24-hour race, I felt that there's more to the competitors and cars than in the race alone. I mean, they almost had everything in screaming colors; fireworks? Check. Competitors with interesting traits? You can check this post. A Corvette? Check. A big number of starters? Check. Rather than posting the race recap since I didn't stay up for full 24 hours, following the good 'ol Rendy's Blog tradition, this post will be dedicated to some of the unique things present in this year's race.


Last year, I witnessed how unique 24 Hours of Dubai is with the different refueling station in contrast to how most race events handle refueling procedure and the Code 60 rule in which drivers, in case of accidents and whatnot, must drive no more than 60 kmh as long as this rule is in effect mid-race. Other than the fact that I did have a get together when posting that last year, this time I will talk about how diverse this year's 24 Hours of Dubai is, with a sensational entry list of 96. Yes, NINETY SIX, something that Gaban approves mind you (only in an Indonesian's point of view sadly). No other race event can hold this many entry list, unless you take the 24 Hours of Nurburgring in mind. The twice-round-the-clock endurance racing event is open to both amateur and professional entries, with cars of varying shapes: You have GT3 cars (and the GTE Corvettes) competing in the blue-riband A6 class which then consists into two subgroups of "A6 Pro" and "A6 Am", The 997 category which, obviously, is full of Porsche 991 Cup cars. This year we also had SP2, SP3, CUP1, A5, A3T, and A2. Quite a lot of classes, mind you. Breaking down these other classes, SP2 is for Endurance specials such as MARC Ford and Silhouette cars unacceptable in other classes, the same with SP3 only this time it's slower than SP2 cars (and they have Ginettas too). CUP1 is a spec-category reserved for BMW M235i Racing Cup new for this year's race, A5 for Petrol tourers with 3000-3500cc displacement, A3T for Supercharged tourers of 1650-2000cc displacement, and finally A2 for 1600-2000cc tourers and those Supercharged up to 1650cc. More information are available upon downloading the "Class overview" PDF file on the following 24H SERIES's page.

A little bit of A6 Am category, each team must set lap times no faster than 2'05" (the reference time for the race), and if one A6 Am team were to, the team in question only had ten laps to use it in their disposal as the race goes on. This is called the "Joker lap", and this is the different kind of Joker that I am talking, not the usual Joker within the motorsport universe, that Joker or even a certain Joker. Finally, this Joker obviously also isn't. However, some teams nominate for a 2'06" joker and even a 2'04" joker. What happens if a team used its joker more than ten times? The team receives a penalty for every excess joker that they used. I envision that some drivers whose teams are within the A6 Am category and are able to reach the reference time effortlessly must purposely slow down in order to keep themselves out of the said reference time, but since there were heavy traffic due to lots of cars with different categories (especially since slower cars make up a heavy traffic) it is negligible, but it would be hard if only such a traffic weren't there. A6 Pro teams aren't affected to this.

Also special to this race, other than this is the tenth year the Dubai endurance race is held, is that this is the first time 24H SERIES run its full season with the Dubai twice-round-the-clock race as the opener while also carrying the status of FIA International Series recognition. Creventic, a Dutch-based agency, is the organiser and promoter of the 24H SERIES in co-operation with DNRT (Dutch National Racing Team), with the premium tire manufacturer Hankook being not only the exclusive Dubai sponsor but also the 24H SERIES title sponsor and, for the first time, French-based watch manufacturer BRM as the official time-keeping partner. Also to note that drivers who won their class received BRM's exclusive limited edition 24H SERIES watch on the podium. Gerrie Willems, on behalf of Creventic, said that they "couldn't have hoped for a better way to start the season". The 24H SERIES will continue its adventure to the Italian race track of Mugello in the Hankook 12 Hours of Italy on 13-14 March 2015, and later on in Zandvoort (Netherlands), Paul Ricard (France), Barcelona (Spain), and finally Brno (Czech Republic). Although there were 96 teams signed up with 89 started in the race, it is a success, and exceeded the organiser's high expectations. And there were fireworks too even though I didn't have a chance to see it live in motion. :D (Image: Creventic)


Alex Zanardi gave MissionPossible race team a support before the race began. MissionPossible by SorgRennsport is a team that consists of paraplegic drivers aiming to show the world that even racing under paraplegic conditions is a mission possible. (Image: MissionPossible Racing's Facebook page)

Yet, the real diversity lies on the competitors; in last year's Le Mans, you've got Dr. McDreamy, GT Academy drivers and Mark Webber racing together with a special appearance by Fernando Alonso. But that's nothing in contrast of this year's 24 Hours of Dubai as there are several competitors that grabbed my attention, although I had to say that I didn't see them as much as I livestream. The first team is the Mission Possible by SorgRennsport, where the team consists of four paraplegic drivers this year with a goal of "finish the race" and show the world that even for these paraplegics, racing for 24 hours is a Mission Possible for them. Equipped with a BMW M235i Racing Cup CUP1 class car co-developed by Sorg Rennsport complete with hand throttle and brake controls and an automatic transmission, with Austrian paraplegic race car driver Gustav Engljähringer as one of the founders. The team has been a long time competitor in the endurance racing. This year, they completed the Dubai race 49th overall and 5th in class. Even though that it wasn't a good result indeed in their class out of six CUP1 competitors, they continue to prove that even they make what's impossible possible, yet they won't make it to the finish line without the help of Matt Speakman from Australia, German Marc Dilger and Dutchman Mike Smit, all of them are also paraplegic. Additionally, legendary race car driver Alex Zanardi, who is also a paraplegic, paid a visit to these guys for motivation.

Then you have The Racing Divas a.k.a Racing Diva's (no, not a [sic], but how it's written in Dutch), Netherlands's all-female race team competing in the CUP1 category, this year with the help of also Netherlands-based Las Moras Racing Team. Liesette Braams, Sandra van der Sloot, Gaby Uljee and German VLN driver Max Partl dominated their class and finished a strong 23rd overall after the 530 laps. I understand there are female drivers driving on top-level events like Keiko Ihara, Sabine Schmitz. Susie Wolff, Katherine Legge and Michela Cerruti among all others, but you might never imagine that an all-female racing team DOES exist, and you've never seen a team of this. Even if you do, there aren't many. Like Mission Possible racing team, Racing Divas is a longtime runner since 2012, and they slayed 24 Hours of Dubai and always make sure they go home from Dubai with a success, proved since their 2013 run. This year, it's their three-in-a-row category win. Yet, their mission from the time they are founded is not just merely racing to show what the female drivers are capable of; the team is in the game in an effort to raise awareness of Amytrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells and the spinal chord.

And even endurance racing isn't complete without the GT Academy guys racing. Yep, even though that this team is a long-time runner, its roster consists of most recent graduates of GT Academy in different countries as well as one GT Academy senior or two. This year, the all-Gamer lineup consists of German professional Florian Strauss (2013 German winner), Mexican Ricardo Sanchez, Arab Ahmed Bin Khanen, American Nick Hammann, and French Gaetan Paletou (all 2014 winners). In the end, they were able to snatch the team's best ever result: 5th outright and second in the A6 Am class. These gamers successfully prove that they aren't just your average gamers; they are a special kind of gamers who wanted to prove that they are up on par with the seasoned guys within the motorsport spectrum, to the point that they are up to the challenge putting in a disciplined, controlled, mature and, most importantly, quick performance to take to the podium even with only three months of intensive training in GT Academy’s cutting-edge Driver Development Program. They were only beaten in the class's standings by #88 Dragon Racing Ferrari 458 GT3 Italia, with one of the drivers being GT Academy judge Rob Barff.

#19 V8 Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6R ZR1, driven by Rick Abresch, Alex van 't Hoff, Wolf Nathan, Nicky Pastorelli and Miguel Ramos. The car is a hybrid between two GT1 and GTE versions of the Corvette. (Image: Eric Gilbert for
We also have to credit the Dutch team V8 Racing for always bringing their Corvette to the Middle-Eastern endurance stage. Classified in the A6 Pro class, this #19 Corvette is oddly enough a hybrid between the two Pratt & Miller-built GT1 and GTE versions and utilizes a GT1 chassis (No. 5) but with a 5.5-liter V8 engine and GTE powertrain. The team did slain the race's Night Practice session and qualified 5th overall in the hands of Nicky Pastorelli, yet completed only 324 laps, putting them 9th in class and 74th outright. While their run doesn't seem to be that sweet, V8 Racing has ensured you always have an additional dose of seeing a Corvette in an endurance race other than Le Mans and Tudor United Sportscar Championship. Going off-topic for a while, with Ford GT's new generation has been unveiled and is planning for a Le Mans return, we can expect a Ford vs Corvette duel. Bonus points for the Ford having a classic, legendary Gulf livery and Viper still playing in the endurance fandom albeit operating under a different banner. TL;DR: 'MURICAAAAAA!!!!

Amidst the mentions of unique teams, there are unique drivers as well, one of them is the name "Tessitore", who is actually a callname for the Austrian driver Erich Weber, an entertainer who has high racing skills, an approved rally driver, a hillclimb specialist and International man of mystery, plus the same Erich Weber from the Miss Austria staff. At first, I envisioned this Tessitore guy as a motorsport equivalent to Masked Magician a.k.a Val Valentino, until I read this piece of news (although the word "burgeois" lost me at first), despite I honestly don't know whether he chose that callname after an American national sports TV broadcaster Joe Tessitore or not. Alongside fellow countrymen Michael Kogler and Peter Schöller, they took their #94 AllcarTuning-Racing-Team-Austria Seat Leon Supercopa in 56th place overall and a podium in the A3T class. Kogler did state that Tessitore is a very consistent pilot with an enormous ego (?) and he does state that he is a good endurance driver and this year was the second time Kogler drive with him.

Yet, Tessitore isn't the only "callname" drivers who took part; Belgian race driver Philippe Broodcoren, who goes by the name "Brody", was also part of the race driving the A2 class Toyota GT86 of German team Pit Lane (you read it right) numbered 124, alongside fellow Belgians Jacques Derenne and Kurt Dujardyn, with additional efforts from Poland's Maciej Dreszer and Germany's Harald Rettich, with the GT86 completed 462 laps in the race, placed 58th outright and 13th in the general classification. Taking Brody's link to Toyota to account, he does compete in the TMG GT86 cup several times before he took part in this race, which really fitted him well. His other involvements in motorsport include 2011 Blancpain Endurance Series and 2013 Bathurst 12 Hour, among others.

Last but not least the special mention goes to a certain driver with the Indonesian nationality. Until today, I was thinking are there any more Indonesian race drivers other than Rio Haryanto, Sean Gelael and Alexandra Asmasoebrata who is still active. Also from the past I knew Ananda Mikola, Moreno Soeprapto, Satrio Hermanto and Zahir Ali as well, all of whom were drivers of the team Indonesia in the now-defunct A1 Grand Prix - The World Cup of Motorsport. Meet Michael Soeryadjaya, driver of two of four Modena Motorsports Renault X-85 CUPs competing in the A2 class. Modena Motorsports itself fielded 4 Renaults numbered #108, #116, #216 and #217, fielding seven drivers, with most of them shared seats between these cars. Soeryadjaya himself drove the #116 and #217 car and he is actually one of ART's Formula Renault Test Drivers in the 2013 season. However, only the #216 and #217 cars that took the drove the race from green to the chequered flag. Little less known about this guy other than being a Director in PT Saratoga Investama Sedaya Tbk since 2013. He is also a commissioner of PT Mitra Pinasthika Mustika Rent since 2012, and a Director of PT Bareika Capital, a position he has held since 2010. The only problem I have is how none of the Indonesian automotive media aren't aware of his existence while the media continuously report drivers racing in open wheel events like GP2 and Formula 3. I just wish that they also are willing to report endurance races like 24 Hours of Dubai and support this guy, even though he isn't a racer by the level of two aforementioned drivers. Speaking of Indonesian race drivers in endurance racing, I'd like to see Rio Haryanto and/or Sean Gelael compete altogether in Le Mans or even FIA WEC someday.


Again, I have to bomb one of my Turbo Sliders WIPs to this blog. To match with the theme, thankfully, I created Dubai Autodrome. Yet amidst the creation process, it isn't without a hurdle; the Dubai this year isn't the same Dubai ten years ago, appearance-wise. GTR2 has Dubai Autodrome as one of its selectable tracks, yet the striking difference lies in the decorations outside the white line, even the kerbs. While the older version shown in GTR2 has kerbs covered in a green "outer kerb" with grass background, the recent version has simply green carpets that becomes the background of the kerbs. I cannot make up what the "outer kerbs" really mean here, but you get the point:

The old "green kerbs" layout as seen in GTR2. For the present-time version, see the "V8 Racing" picture. This was the initial base for making the outer kerbs in my Dubai until I found out that it's outdated.
Unfortunately, I cannot do all stuff quickly because making real world tracks are very time-consuming, unlike making fictitious tracks obviously. This is the behavior that I keep in mind when making real world tracks. For instance, Tsukuba circuit. The first version was quite a mess because not only the overall environment is desert due to the fact that I followed the fall environment too much but it looked unfit even for a real world track recreation. The second version saw significant improvement yet without one or two mistakes in the design, and the worst thing is that I forgot to pack one of the custom tiles used in this track inside. The worst, however, is the Tamiya Kakegawa track. Kerbs that are too wide, too much poorly-placed walls, jagged course paths, etc. Tamiya Kakegawa was one of the tracks I made out of randomness, and it was because I was into Auto Modellista at that time. Looking at the other real world tracks, especially those featured in the Puschtras Touring Masters, I felt lots of things missing in my track compared to those. In the end, even recreating real world tracks in Turbo Sliders require lots of patience, resource-gathering, well-put object placements and thinking too, just like doing the same in GeneRally and MiniRacingOnline. Only this time, TS's vast customization level allows for custom-made tiles to be placed to the track. While the track is yet drivable for now, I'd rather focus on wall placements for individual sections first, as well as supporting tiles like grandstands. Unfortunately, carefully placing the walls while following the real design is anything but easy, and it takes lots of time. Hopefully I could finish this track as soon as possible.


2015 People's Choice Awards has just finished just before the Dubai race. While the 2015-running award show that allows the public to vote for their favorites in movies, music and television is full of Igloo Australia Iggy Azalea, Betty White and a Fall Out Boy performance (Good to see these guys back!), I am content with some of its winners to be honest. Also worth noting is the 2015 Golden Globe Awards which, I found out, also included TV nominations, just when I thought it only awards those within the movie spectrum. For next year though, I will pay attention to the Golden Globes too. In the meantime, you can check my thoughts on 2015 PCAs (and occasional paragraphs of Golden Globes) on my LiveJournal here as well as seeing who the winners are. Until next time!

And one more thing: it's now Stadler Motorsport's turn to eat their hearts out. xD


No comments:

Post a Comment