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Live from the Dubai 24 Hour

  1. Attention The Internet: this is the official TopGear.com feed from the 2012 Dubai 24h endurance race.

    Not heard of the D24? We forgive you. It is, after all, a fairly new endeavour - this is the only the seventh year it’s run.

  2. So, why the hell are we getting excited about it? Mainly because it’s absolutely, idiotically awesome.

  3. Here’s why: the grid is ridiculous. And it’s all thanks to what’s possibly the most bafflingly racing class system we’ve encountered - it manages to encompass a huge variety of cars spanning from sublime to ridiculous.

  4. We’re not pasting on the hyperbole, either – as well as a
    gamut of knee-weakening supercars (think Ferrari 458, Mercedes SLS, Lamborghini
    Gallardo and Audi R8) there’s a brace of diesel BMW 1-series’, some Minis, a
    Renault Clio RS Cup and a Seat Leon Supercopa.

    Save for the musings of a lunatic, where else are you going
    to find a Leon swapping paint with a 458?

  5. So, here’s how it breaks down.

    A6 is the premier class. And where you’ll find the Gallardos, SLSs, 458s, GT-Rs and many, many Porsche GT3 Cups.

    As you’d imagine, they lead the charge.

  6. The SP2 class is where it gets interesting. It’s been carved largely to accommodate cars that don’t fit or aren’t accepted in any other class. Or, in other words, cool stuff that’s not fast enough for A6.

  7. They’re precisely as fun as they sound. And because they’re based on a minimum reference lap time, not weight or power. That means there’s a real mêlée - from Dodge Vipers and a Renault Megane Trophy to a ridiculous V8-engined 1-series silhouette-style thing.

  8. SP3’s also pretty exciting. It’s where you’ll find Aston Martins, Ginettas, M-flavoured BMWs and Nissan’s own 370Z.

    The latter’s piloted by graduates of its GT Academy (a group of Gran Turismo gamers turned racers - you’ll learn more about them in later posts).

  9. The A5, A4, A3T, A2 and A1 class are also a bit silly. They’re based on engine size (3000cc-3500cc, 2000cc-3000cc, turbo cars up to 1600cc, 1600cc-2000cc and turbo engines up to 1600cc, up to 1600cc respectively) and where you’ll find the slower, entertaining stuff.

  10. The best of the A-series cars are, without doubt, the A2 and A3Ts.

    They started life as touring cars, which, as you probably know, are only really designed to run for half an hour. A bit more meat gets added to the mechanical bone, then they’re raced here. For 24 hours. Expect spectacular mechanical problems from the likes of Holden’s Astra VXR, BMW’s Mini, Honda’s Integra Type R and the hilariously unlikely Renault Clio RS Cup and Megane Trophy.

  11. There’s also a 997 class. Which, cryptically, is designed to get more Porsche 997 Cup cars involved.

  12. Finally, there’s a pair of Diesel-only classes named, imaginatively, D1 and D2.

    The former’s for cars up to 2000cc and the latter for 2000-3000cc. D1 consists of a pair of BMW 120d racers and D2’s solitary entrant is an E92 BMW 335D.

  13. Quite varied, then…

    But there’s also the dark. Dubai 24h has lots of it. Unlike the six hours of night driving you get at Le Mans, half of the Middle Eastern race is decided in pitch black.

  14. For now, though, here’s a selection of the daytime and practicey, scrutineering stuff. And it’s already been pretty eventful. Local boys AUH Motorsport blitzed qualifying to such an extent that fuel capacity was cut by ten litres for the duration of the race.

  15. Team Abu Dhabi’s Black Falcon Mercedes took an early lead, but have since conceded to Saudi Falcons’ BMW Z4 GT3.

  16. So, what else have we got coming up? Now you know all about the racing and how it works, we’ll be rummaging around behind the scenes of Dubai 24h.

  17. We’ll also be getting some exclusive action from the Nissan camp - it’s brought along a GT-R GT3 as well as a pair of 370Zs. Expect some pitlane mayhem.

  18. And, as the night draws closer, we’ll be finding out the challenges of racing in this scorching sand pit, bothering fans and showing you what this event means to Dubai.

  19. For now, though, enjoy the images. And please tweet us any picture and interview requests via @BBC_TopGear

  20. We’ll leave you with a shot of this grumpy man.

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