Setting 2019 off in style, Charlie Eastwood was back behind the wheel this weekend. With his dazzling young career taking new heights, as he claimed victory in the Dubai 24h Race in the 991 class. Teaming up with the Duel Racing outfit, joining the three British-based Emirati Moutran brothers in a bid for honours, Charlie spearheaded the team’s stellar charge to a dominant win at the Dubai Autodrome.
Charlie is rapidly making a name for himself in endurance racing, following his strong debut sealing a podium the 2018 24h Nürburgring. Capitalising on his experience gained in FIA World Endurance Championship to take his maiden 24h victory in sensational form.
Making their intentions known early on, Charlie and the guys quickly showed their pace across the practice sessions. However, understanding the mechanical challenges that came along with a 24 hour race, running time was kept to a minimum. Qualifying 2nd in class, their impressive pace earnt them a starting position in the thick of the action once racing began on Saturday afternoon.
“To qualify in P2 for the race was great, with ‘911-I’ cars which I drove in Carrera Cup, we were racing alongside the ‘911-II’ cars, which are typically around 1 second faster. So we only just missed out on pole, which was a great achievement.” Charlie reflected.
Climbing aboard for his first stint behind the wheel of the #950 Porsche 911, the Belfast-born driver battled his way to the race lead by the time he handed over to his teammate.
Racing through the night and into the morning, the well-oiled team worked in perfect harmony, with a faultless strategy easing them throughout the long and arduous race. Through well-timed pit stops, Charlie and his teammates managed to pull out a gap to their rivals as the hours ticked by. Nervously watching on, the team were all too aware how mechanical problems could arise at any time, but with luck on their side and a strong team around them they had reigned an 8-lap advantage as the race reached its closing stages.
“We didn’t spend a single minute in the garage, which is how we managed to spread the gap. My teammates did an incredible job, with consistent lap times and staying out of trouble. The hardest part was the final few hours, it’s so difficult when you have so much time in hand and we were all pinching ourselves, thinking something must go wrong.” Charlie recapped.
Eventually, in what could be deemed an inch-perfect race, the team brought home the #950 Duel Racing car to claim the class victory, 10 laps clear of the field. Scaling the fences in elation, Charlie and the team celebrated their domination:
“It was the most perfect race we could think of, from start to finish, my teammates did a great job and we picked up no damage throughout the race.”
“It was such a relief when we took the flag, it was an amazing feeling for the team and myself. When you have so much fatigue after 24 hours, to win feels incredible, especially as it was my first 24h class win.”
“Overall, I want to thank everyone at Duel Racing for the opportunity, we all got on like a house on fire, everyone knew their place in the team and all worked incredibly well together.”
Reigning victorious in Dubai kicks off what is set to be another exciting year for the young racer, who was crowned Motorsport Ireland’s Young Racing Driver of the Year in 2018. With the continuation of the World Endurance Championship Super Season at Spa set to take place in May, we look forward to seeing what more is in store for Charlie in 2019.