For six years, the Dubai Autodrome has headed its international motorsport calendar with an endurance race. While not in the same league as Le Mans or the Nürburgring just yet, the 24 Hours of Dubai is nevertheless making quite a name for itself.
This year, 400 drivers from 120 countries will pilot 90 cars on the 5.39km Grand Prix circuit, including high profile racers like five times DTM champion Bernd Schneider (above), two-time Daytona winner Michael Waltrip, and a star-studded sprinkling of DTM and Porsche Carrera Cup winners.
To be invited to drive alongside these motorsport giants, albeit in a humble BMW 120d, is a gentleman racer’s dream. Although I’ve been racing for nine years, I can’t deny the thrill of potentially rubbing shoulders (or paint) with some of the world’s best drivers.
My diesel-powered steed is run by A2B Racing, a Dubai-based outfit that competes in the UAE Touring Car Championship. With a budget equivalent to the shoe shine bill of the top factory teams, and a mere fraction of our D1 class competitors, A2B will need to dig deep and play for pride.
I will be sharing driving duties with three experienced Dubai-based racers: Australian and UAE karting champion Chris Wishart (second right); UAE Touring Car class 2 front runner Spencer Vanderpal (far left); Paul Denby (wearing helmet), reigning GTB class champion in the UAE GT Championship and my Porsche Cup car co-driver in this year’s campaign.
We’re all used to success in our domestic championships, but we’ll be driving outside our natural comfort zone in the 120d and experiencing life at the least glamorous end of the pits.