The UAE flag fluttered high on the podium as the Emirates’ National anthem resonated around the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Circuit after Khaled Al Qubaisi and Team Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing stormed to victory at the 6 Hours of Mexico, Round 5 of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), in Mexico City. Al Qubaisi dedicated the win to Abu Dhabi and all of the Emirates.
Al Qubaisi had shared driving duties with David Heinemeier Hansson of Denmark and Patrick Long of the US behind the wheel of the No.88 Porsche 911 RSR.
Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing had initially qualified in second for the race, but post-qualifying scrutineering revealed a technical infringement by pole-setter, who were then sent to the back of the grid.
The crew of the No.88 Porsche 911 RSR grabbed this promotion to pole position by both hands and stormed to victory in convincing fashion in very tricky conditions, including heavy rains in the second half of the race.
Long opened the race for the team, which was pushed down to P3 but the American then quickly went up to P2. Long then was involved in a neck-and-neck battle for the top position and managed to wrest the lead after leader No.86 Porsche made a pit-stop.
Al Qubaisi then took the wheel of the No.88 Porsche 911 RSR where he did a fantastic double stint, stretching the lead from 20 seconds to nearly one minute giving his team the advantage going into the second half of the race.
When Hansson stepped into the cockpit for a double stint with the team still in the lead, the rains came down heavily, resulting in chaotic scenes out on the track.
The final 90 minutes witnessed several incidents, but Long, who had taken over for the final stint, put pedal to metal and raced from P3 to victory at the chequered flag.
The victory was more remarkable because Abu Dhabi-Proton were racing for the very first time at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez Circuit!
Khaled Al Qubaisi:
It was a very tough race under very challenging conditions where strategy was the key to staying ahead; but we did it in the end!
The final phase was very stressful. We were often very close to winning in the past, but something always happened to prevent it.
Today everything came together. I am very happy and grateful for the victory. This is fantastic for the whole team.
I am told that this is the first time that the UAE National anthem has been played at an international motorsport world championship. I dedicate this win to the UAE and all of the Emirates. Also, I would like to thank our sponsors Abu Dhabi Racing, Etihad Airways, Kaspersky and BearingPoint.
With this win, Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing have now leapfrogged to second overall in the LMGTE Am class with 94 points, just 35 points behind the leader with four more races to go in the championship.
Round six will be held in Austin, USA, on September 17.
Abu Dhabi Racing Press Release