Abbott helps team to second place finish on 24-hour racing debut in Dubai
Maidenhead-based racing driver Hunter Abbott quickly got up to speed on his 24 hour racing debut in Dubai last weekend, helping his team take the chequered flag in second place.
The 35-year-old British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) driver received a last minute call to join a team in Dubai and found the desert state circuit to his liking.
Hunter said: “I got a call on Tuesday asking me to come and replace one of the 4 drivers in the CWS Racing Ginetta G55 for the Dubai 24hrs and join Colin White, Matt Nicoll Jones and Steve Fresle behind the wheel.
"I’ve known CWS, Colin and Matt for a long time - I actually raced for CWS in 2007 and Matt and I finished 1st and 2nd in the British GT championship in 2008. I’ve always fancied having a go at 24hr racing and jumped at the chance. I was at Heathrow at 7am the following day to catch a plane out there."
Abbott missed the Wednesday practice sessions at the Dubai Autodrome circuit and only managed to squeeze in four practice laps on the Thursday before heading into qualifying. The team qualified fifth in the SP3 class and 53rd overall in a grid of 100 cars.
The race started at 2pm on the Friday and continued until 2pm the following day. Every driver took the wheel for four or five driving stints of 1.5 to two hours each.
A penalty for a pit-stop infringement dropped the team back to 12th place, but by the end of Abbott's third stint the team were leading the race and had a one lap advantage over second place Century Motorsport. A belt failure caused engine problems in the morning and the team rejoined the circuit in seventh place.
But Abbott managed to weave the team back up to third place with just over an hour of the race to go and Matt Nicoll Jones chased down the second placed Aston Martin of JW Bird Motorsport to claim second place in the SP3 class and 28th place overall.
Abbott added: “Twelve hours in I really didn’t think we had a chance of fighting back to the podium – let alone the lead – but I’m over the moon with second. I have to say I loved my first 24 hour racing experience.
"Racing at night is a wonderful thing, there's nothing like heading through a series of corners fighting with a bunch of cars with nothing but your own headlights lighting the way.
"The second thing I loved was the personal challenge of driving flat out for 6-7hrs, keeping consistency, not making mistakes, being mechanically sympathetic and most importantly staying out of trouble - especially when you have 100 cars of different speeds all wanting the same bit of Tarmac in the dark! I
"It's hard work but very rewarding. Although my plans for this year haven't been finalised my wish is to stay in the BTCC but I would jump at the chance to dove tail this with some more 24hr racing. A massive thank you to Colin White for the opportunity and to the CWS team for their tireless and excellent work.”