In typical 997 GT3 R fashion, the Stadler Motorsport Porsche proved to be a war hammer, rather than a saber; it wasn't the quickest machine in the field, but it stood the test of time and bested all opponents. The Swiss-based racing team drove their 997 to the first major victory of the year, for Porsche, in an attrition-riddled Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai. This was Porsche's first victory in the race since 2010, but their fourth overall victory in the 9 events that have been run (BMW has won three times, and Mercedes AMG twice).
The #20 Porsche was driven through the 24 hours by Mark Ineichen, Rolf Ineichen, Marcel Matter, Adrian Amstutz, and Porsche Supercup driver Christian Engelhart. Going around the clock twice at the desert circuit makes for a difficult race, and many teams were forced to retire. Having completed 603 laps, the Stadler team won by keeping to the dual adages of racing; "To finish first, you must first finish", and "The team who spends the least time in the pits will be the winner". They kept their nose clean, kept the car running well, and spent as much as 20 fewer minutes in their pit stall than their competition.
Another Porsche, the #4 Fach Auto Tech car run by Klohs, Ragginger, Asch, and de Phillippi, had dominated much of the running through the early morning, and ran into gearbox issues shortly after sun-up. Trying to limp the car home with a failing gearbox, the car ground to a halt on circuit just 38 laps or so from the finish, allowing Stadler to slip into the lead. An electrical fault also sidelined the #1 Team Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon Racing Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 just before midnight, as they were reeling in the victory. Further on-track incidents took the Ram Racing Ferrari and the Team Schubert BMW out of contention, as both had led the race at various stages. If there was an irrefutable victor at this race, it was certainly Attrition. As the automotive equivalent of the Grim Reaper, Attrition took the racing lives of several cars over the course of the race, apparently sparing only a select few.
In the end, Stadler's clean driving, and ability to keep out of trouble netted them the victory over a pair of Mercedes SLS AMG. The next nearest Porsche was the Attempto Racing 997 GT3 R in 11th place overall, some 20 laps in arrears of the victors.
Full race results available here.
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[Photography: John Dagys and 24hseries.com]