MONDAY 12TH JANUARY 2009
PERFECT FORM AT DUBAI 24 AGAIN UNTIL THE DEVIL STRIKES
The year was already getting busy. Allan Simonsen had just completed a detailed test session in preparation for the Rolex Daytona 24 in Florida. And now here he was in Dubai for his second attempt at the Toyo Dubai 24.

Last year he'd teamed with Lars Erik Nielsen and Richard Westbrook in the Proton Felbermeyr Porsche and led the race handsomely only to be sidelined early on when Nielsen rolled the RSR after being baulked by slower traffic.

This year he was back with his 2006 Le Mans Series team in the same Porsche he'd taken to third at Le Mans in 2007 – Autorlando Sport.

His team mates were Francisco Cruz Martins, Gianluca Roda and Porsche factory driver Richard Lietz.

Practice started perfectly, topping the time sheets just as he'd achieved the previous year.

After missing out on pole in 2008 by less than a tenth of a second, on the final lap (pole went to Craig Baird in the VIP Petfoods Porsche), Simonsen was looking to make amends.

That was borne out in reality with the team taking the pole, albeit Richard Lietz at the wheel.




As Lietz had set pole, he would take the start and did so settling in to lead the one day race.

Lietz came in to pit and handed over to Francisco Cruz.

In the third hour Cruz was hit from behind by another car forcing the team to make extensive repairs, dropping them down the order.

It took the Autorlando team an hour to effect repairs before Simonsen started the comeback charge.

The Autorlando Porsche was now consistently setting the fastest lap times, passing car after car.

But then came another drama – the gearbox became stuck in 3rd, perhaps as a result of the heavy rear end shunt earlier in the race.

Italian team mate Gianluca Roda was forced to pit whilst the fantastic Autorlando Sport team worked their magic.

With an hour to go, having worked themselves back up into the top ten, the gearbox finally let go, with Cruz at the wheel. It was now instant retirement.

Such a disappointment after such a promising outlook. Two years in a row Simonsen has led this classic race only to sidelined. Perhaps it will be third time lucky.

None the less, Allan was philosophical
"The Dubai 24 is a fantastic race. I love coming to Dubai and the atmosphere at the track is very friendly. I really hope we get it right in 2010 because thats pretty tough retiring twice form the lead.

"A huge thank you must go to all my team mates and a special thanks to Rossella, who keeps us all glued together, Orlando for all his skill and engineering, and of course Volker for his strategy."