BRAY driver Hunter Abbott has had great success on his recent 24-hours racing debut in Dubai.

The 35-year-old British Touring Car Championship regular received a last-minute call to join a team at the 11th hour.

Abbott explained: “I got a call asking me to come and replace one of the four drivers in the CWS Racing Ginetta G55 for the Dubai 24-hours. I would join Colin White, Matt Nicoll-Jones and Steve Fresle behind the wheel.

“I’ve known CWS, Colin and Matt for a long time. I actually raced for CWS in 2007, and Matt and I finished first and second in the British GT Championship in 2008.

“I’ve always fancied having a go at 24-hour racing and jumped at the chance. I was at Heathrow at 7am the following day to catch a plane out there.”

Due to the last minute nature of the drive, Abbott missed the practice sessions at the Dubai Autodrome circuit, and he only had four laps to learn it before heading into qualifying.

The team qualified for the race fifth of the 20 cars in the SP3 class, and 53rd overall in a grid of 100 cars.

The drivers would need to do four or five driving stints of one-and-a-half-two hours each. The first driver to take to the wheel was White, followed by Fresle, Nicoll-Jones and finally Abbott, whose stint would start just after sunset.

Unfortunately just four hours into the race the team suffered a penalty for a pit-stop infringement which dropped them back to 12th position. They focussed hard and all the drivers drove their heart out to bring the car back into contention.

Abbott drove his first three stints in the car at night and, with six hours and 21 minutes to go, he finished his third stint and brought the team forward from third position into the lead, with a one-lap advantage over second-placed Century Motorsport.

However, disaster struck when a belt failure caused engine woes. The team worked hard to fix the issue but by the time the car re-joined the circuit they had dropped to seventh position.

Abbott took over for his final stint and got the team back up to third place with an one and 21 minutes to go.

Nicoll-Jones took over for the last stint and chased down the Aston Martin of JW Bird Motorsport in second place, successfully passing them and claiming second position in the SP3 class and 28th place overall.

Abbott said: “I really didn’t think we had a chance of fighting back to the podium 12-hours in, let alone the lead, but I’m over the moon with second.

“I have to say I loved my first 24-hour racing experience. Racing at night is a wonderful think, there is nothing like heading through a series of corners fighting with a bunch of cars with nothing but your own headlights lighting the way.

“The second thing I loved was the personal challenge of driving flat out for six-seven hours, keeping consistency, not making mistakes, being mechanically sympathetic and most importantly staying out of trouble – especially when you have 100 cars of different speeds all wanting the same bit of tarmac in the dark. It is hard work but very rewarding.

“Although my plans for this year have not been finalised, my wish is to stay in the British Touring Car Championship, but I would jump at the chance to dovetail that with more 24-hour racing.

“A massive thank you to Colin White for the opportunity, and to the CWS team for their tireless and excellent work.”