Consider this. The motorsport off-season isn’t quite as prolific as it once was. While the Formula Ones and World Rally Championships of this world finish term mid-November, many national GT events are just getting warmed up. Take the UAE Touring Cars and Maserati Trofeo, for example.

Now into January, the organisers of the Dubai 24hr are certainly keen to crack on. Take, for example, the fact that the date for next year’s event has already been confirmed. Impressive. Even more so considering the 2012 race is now just over a week away.

With over eighty cars entered for this year’s Dubai 24hr and a truly international driver line-up competing – each with a strong endurance racing head on their respective shoulders – a walk in the park this will not be.

Keen to keep their crown after triumphing at the Dubai Autodrome last year, Claudia Hurtgen and Edward Sandstrom will this year be partnering multiple World Touring Car Championship race winnerJorg Muller and Sandstrom’s 2011 GT3 European Championship sparring partner, Prince AbdulazizAlFaisal. Their BMW Z4 will face stiff competition from their Team Saudi Falcon stablemates as HRH Khaled Bin Sultan AlFaisal in the sister entry will push to make an impression just a stone’s throw from his Saudi Arabian home.

Also racing on home turf will be the Abu Dhabi Black Falcon team, with national racer Khaled Al Qubaisi sharing the wheel with sometime GP2 racer JeroenBleekemolen and Porsche Supercup race winner Sean Edwards. Their Mercedes SLS AMG mirrors could well be full of Gulf Racing’s two-car fleet of Lamborghini Gallardo LP600s and AF Corse SRL’s sole Ferrari 458 Italia.

Other top names to look out for are former-F1 pilot Thomas Enge on his latest 24hrs trip to the dunes, former-24 Hours of Le Mans class winner Peter Kox, reigning-American Le Mans Series LMP2 Champion Tom Kimber-Smith, and four-time DTM Champion Bernd Schneider. Even EVO magazine’s Richard Meaden is having a go, taking the fight to the big boys in a Nissan 370Z. It’s worth mentioning that Oryx Racing owner Humaid Al Massoud, the first Emirati to win an ALMS race outright, will be hopping in to join MrMeaden.

As always, crankandpiston.com will be onsite to bring you the news, the thrills, maybe spills, and the latest gossip, all through very weary eyes. Stay tuned…

James Gent first started as a freelance motorsport writer in the UK, before an urge to be paid a monthly wage saw him move to Dubai in late 2011. A keen motoring enthusiast, he hopes that one day his garage will hold a Lamborghini Countach, as well as a WRC Lancia Delta Integrale.

James Gent

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