This is motorsport and anything can happen. Rebecca’s trip to Dubai started well as she got out on track for practice during both the day and night sessions in the Sorg Rennsport BMW M235i.
The team went from strength-to-strength bringing the car home in pole position in class after qualifying, ready for the race on Friday.
Unfortunately things ended prematurely on race day as Rebecca explained on her Facebook page: “After just 4 hours into the 24 Hours of Dubai, Chris James sadly had a huge shunt that put us out of the race. We were leading our class at the time. George Richardson, who put it on pole for us, was waiting to get in. I was due out next at dark. Ricardo Flores and Ahmed Almelaihi completed our driver line up. A real shame for all the team, with many mixed emotions.”
The experience, practice time and qualifying were all hugely beneficial for Project Le Mans but that doesn’t mean Rebecca isn’t disappointed not to have had more time on track.
Chris is also disappointed not to have got further in the race but is staying positive. He said: “I loved the whole experience, apart from the ending of course! The track was one of the best I’ve ever raced at, there are so many different technical corners, and it’s very fast – my kind of circuit. Apart from the weather on Wednesday – raining in the middle of the desert during first practice! – the heat was great. The team at Sorg Rennsport were hugely welcoming and we had great camaraderie.
“Obviously I was very disappointed. It’s one thing having a DNF when you are racing alone, but when you have four other drives in the team it hurts and weighs heavy on your mind.
“Overall it was an amazing experience and one I know I will be doing again in 2016, seeing the chequered flag this time!”
A lot of preparation went into this race with Rebecca not being able to take too much time off her training schedule over Christmas. She said: “At the end of the motorsport season, the plan was to relax slightly on the training and enjoy the odd festive party. Obviously not too much as that would be counter productive for Project Le Mans’ continuous momentum. However not quite as intense for a month or so before picking up again in January. However news of securing a seat in the Dubai 24 hour meant a full blown training regime was back with full force.”
That regime involved training with Stew Wild of Strakka Racing with a motorsport-specific plan that involved both cardio and strength. Rebecca also used hot yoga to acclimatise to the heat. She said: “The BMW has no air con and because it is turbo charged it is never switched off, therefore the windows have to be closed on refuelling and because of this there’s no cold air feed to the driver.”
In order to get to grips with the track and the car, Rebecca spent one full day on Strakka Racing’s simulator. This was also a great chance to get experience driving at racing speeds in the dark. Just before she headed to Dubai, Rebecca spent another half a day in the simulator to ensure everything she’d learnt was at the forefront of her mind.
Another way to get an idea of the track, racing line and feel for the Dubai 24 hour was to watch videos of previous races at the circuit. Analysing laps in this way put Rebecca in the right mindset to tackle the track herself.
She also got tips from Le Mans legend and Fifth Gear presenter Tiff Needell.
Once at the circuit Rebecca walked the track to see the surface and contours on foot as these things aren’t always apparent when watching previous in-car footage.
It was also important that Rebecca’s sponsors were represented on the car so she organised stickers with key sponsors: Challenger, F.O.Y, Turtle Wax, Fed202, Telegraph Cars, the Rebecca Racer logo and Project Le Mans, taking them along to Dubai in her hold luggage.
It’s disappointing to have put so much into this race and Rebecca is truly gutted for the team and also for Chris but all the preparation will help her on the road to Le Mans. It was good to get some experience, however brief, of driving with faster classes in a team endurance race at night. Working with a large team of drivers was great fun and gave Rebecca the chance to learn from each of them.
Now is the time to look ahead at the season to come and very soon we’ll be able to reveal exactly what Rebecca is planning for 2016.