Top five finish for SPS automotive performance in Dubai

SPS automotive performance secured a top-five result at the 24H Dubai to kick off the 2024 season. The #27 Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Gray Newell (USA), Darren Turner (GBR), Daniel Mancinelli (ITA) and Pierre Kleinubing (BRA) finished fifth in the GT3 Pro-Am category under the Heart of Racing by SPS entry.

The Dubai 24 Hours traditionally marks the start of the motorsport year. However, due to current transport difficulties, the organiser was forced to postpone the race by two weeks. The joint venture between SPS automotive performance and The Heart of Racing had to reorganise the driver line-up of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 with starting number 27 due to the resulting clash of dates with the 24-hour race in Daytona taking place at the same time.

However, the newly formed team, some of whom were driving a Mercedes-AMG GT3 in competitive conditions for the first time, quickly proved their ability on the desert circuit. The team secured twelfth place on the grid in the overall standings and seventh place in the GT3 Pro-Am class in the three-part qualifying session on Friday afternoon.

In the early stages of the 24H Dubai, Daniel Mancinelli, the starting driver of the blue Mercedes-AMG GT3, battled for positions on a track that was extremely dirty and slippery due to a previous sandstorm in the 54-car field. However, thanks to almost faultless stints and an excellent pit stop strategy, the driver quartet quickly worked their way forwards and were already in the leading group in their class after the first quarter of the race. The team suffered a setback during the night when the #27 Mercedes-AMG GT3 had to make an unscheduled pit stop due to a technical issue. After a longer repair stop, the team returned to the track, but dropped out of the front positions due to the lost time. In the final third of the Dubai 24 Hours, the team moved back up the overall standings with fast lap times. Although the resulting gap prevented the team from catching up with the leading group, final driver Gray Newell crossed the finish line at the Dubai Autodrome Circuit in fifth place in the GT3 Pro-Am class after 570 laps in the best-placed Mercedes-AMG car.

The Heart of Racing and SPS automotive performance will be competing together again in just a few weeks. The team will start the first race of the Intercontinental GT Challenge season at the Mount Panorama Circuit in Australia from 16 to 18 February with the Bathurst 12 Hour.

Stephan Sohn, team principal SPS automotive performance: “First of all, I have to compliment the entire team. Everyone did a good job this weekend. Unfortunately, a technical issue prevented us from achieving a better finish. We hope that we can get a better result in Bathurst.”

Darren Turner, Heart of Racing by SPS: “Super happy that we were able to make it to the end of 24H Dubai. A very hard race with a few issues but a great experience. Had a lot of fun with my teammates Gray, Pierre, Daniel and the incredible team who were outstanding throughout the whole event.”

Daniel Mancinelli, Heart of Racing by SPS: “It was my first experience with Mercedes-AMG and in Dubai. We were fighting for the podium until we had a technical problem. But motorsport is like that sometimes. I would like to thank the whole team for being fantastic all week. I enjoyed sharing the car with Gray, Pierre and Darren and the fantastic teamwork.”

Pierre Kleinubing, Heart of Racing by SPS: “We should do it again sometime. Great times and great new friends.”