|January 10, 2013
24H Dubai Kicks Off DragonSpeed Classic Enduro Challenge
The Dunlop 24H Dubai on 11-12 January marks the first round of the DragonSpeed Classic Enduro Challenge world tour of prestigious GT endurance events. This year's edition of the United Arab Emirates tourism capital's premier race boasts a record field of 85 entries in nine classes, with DragonSpeed's Audi R8 LMS ultra competing in the Pro-Am section of top A6 category against the latest FIA GT3 offerings from Porsche, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Aston Martin, and McLaren.
Dubai also represents the silver and red DragonSpeed Audi's race debut, the Florida-based outfit having tested extensively since taking delivery from Audi Sport customer racing midway through 2012. Team Principal Elton Julian, who retired from the cockpit at the end of last season after contesting the full FIA World Endurance Championship in LMP2, is looking forward to his return to the endurance circuit from the other side of the pit wall.
"Two years ago, we took a lightly modified Ferrari Challenge car to the best-ever finish for a Ferrari F430 in the Rolex 24 at Daytona," said Elton. "That really brought home to me to the satisfactions of running a team in this type of racing, and we've been planning our new program since then. Going with Audi was motivated by more than getting the best GT3 car available. It also gives us a chance to play a part in building Audi's customer racing presence in the US and to get involved with Audi Sport in Germany as well. The support we've already had from Audi confirms we made the right choice, and we hope to repay that with a solid result in Dubai."
"It didn't really matter that there isn't an outlet for pure GT3 machinery yet in the US. What really appealed to us was the challenge, status, and adventure of the world's top GT enduros. We felt these qualities would capture the imagination of American drivers looking for the special experience these events deliver. The range and quality of drivers who have joined us for Dubai bears that out. We've achieved exactly the mix the organizers of these races want. We have a couple of capable gentlemen in Francis Hideki Onda and my DragonSpeed partner Pete Aronson, a pair of really accomplished semi-pros with Enzo Potolicchio and Pierre Ehret, and an emerging sportscar pro in Eric Lux. And four of those five are out of the US."
"I'm also pleased to have some of the same guys from Daytona 2011 back with us for Dubai, along with a couple of oustanding newcomers. Everyone on the car is at chief mechanic level, so I think the romance of what we're doing has worked its magic on the crew as well."
The 24H Dubai started with a full day of testing on Wednesday, to be followed by practice and qualifying on Thursday leading up to the race start at 2pm Friday. The race will be webcast live on Motors TV and at live.24hseries.com, while RadioLeMans.com will provide further online coverage. Regular updates on DragonSpeed's fortunes will be posted on Facebook at DragonSpeed Inc. and Twitter @EltitonJulian.