Stéphane Kox stepped on the overall podium at the 6 Hours of Abu Dhabi, completing her first race in the Saalocin by KoxRacing Porsche GT3 as she prepares for the Asian Le Mans Series campaign.
Just one week after the 24H of Dubai - the event that effectively launches the endurance racing season globally and that attracts some of the best teams and drivers to the CREVENTIC-organized race - it was time to move to YAS Marina for the non-championship 6H of Abu Dhabi. Most of the teams that lined up female drivers at Dubai Autodrome - including reigning champion Samantha Tan - opted to skip the Abu Dhabi race and will be back at the 12H of Mugello in March. But, as per tradition in the 24H Series, female representation was still strong with 28-year old Dutchwoman Stéphane Kox. The daughter of established racing driver Peter Kox joined her father and Nico Pronk at the wheel of the #48 Porsche 911 GT3 R by Saalocin by KoxRacing, in a one off entry in the 24H Series as they get ready for the upcoming Asian Le Mans Series. Stéphane, who was also part of the inaugural W Series selections, entered the 2021 DTM Trophy championship and scored points in 5 races. Despite the team receiving the new car literally days before the Abu Dhabi event, the three drivers quickly adapted to the GT3 machinery and consistently ran within the top-five in the practice sessions. In the two 12-minute qualifying sessions, Saalocin by KoxRacing clinched a remarkable second place, behind the #86 Baron Motorsport Ferrari of Ernst Kirchmayr, Philipp Baron, Roman Ziemian, Mikkel Mac and Axcil Jefferies - the latter having also won the 24H of Dubai last weekend for Team WRT. From the front row of the grid, Peter Kox initially held second and then settled into third overall as the Baron Motorsport Ferrari preceded the #88 LP Racing Lamborghini. After a one-hour stint, Kox pitted and handed over the wheel to his daughter Stéphane. During the first round of pit stops, the leading HRT Performance Porsche 911 came to a halt having run out of fuel, bringing out the first Code60. The LP Lamborghini Huracan of Evan Chen, Thomas Yu Lee, Lorenzo Veglia had meanwhile taken the lead, but a suspension failure soon meant retirement for the #88 crew. At the two hour mark, Stéphane Kox regained second place overall and continued a really solid stint. She briefly led the race when Austrian squad Baron Motorsport was handed a 10 second penalty for track limits; Kox pitted for the second driver change and Nico Pronk got behind the wheel of the bright green #48 Porsche, rejoining in fifth place with 3 hours and 30 minutes left on the clock. Stéphane Kox had a good run despite a spin in the final minutes of her driving shift, which she described as a very difficult one due to a dashboard issue: "The car was very difficult in the end [of the stint], it was a difficult stint in general because we didn't have the dashboard." - she said in an interview with the 24H Series pitlane reporter having just climbed out of the car. "So I had no shifts, nothing, no information,it was a bit of a struggle", she explained. "It was lucky in the end and I managed to bring the car back." "I'm really happy to drive this incredible car. We'll also do more races in the Asian Le Mans Series - this is our first race here, we only got the car last week so it's a bit of a trial but I think we managed quite well." The night fell on the YAS Marina Circuit; the #86 Ferrari managed to regain the overall lead after dropping to eighth after the penalty, thanks to flawless stints and precise pit stops. After a one hour stint, Peter Cox was back in the #48 Porsche, temporarily promoting the #92 Herberth Motorsport Porsche and the ARC Bratislava Lamborghini of Miro Konopka and Matej Konopka to second and third at the four-hour mark. While initially Stéphane Kox was supposed to return behind the wheel for the final stint, the strategy changed and Peter was left out until the chequered flag. The very experienced racer and multiple Le Mans podium finisher closed in on the leading Ferrari: at the final stop, the top two pitted simultaneously: Mikkel Mac handed over to Axcil Jefferies, while Kox refueled and rejoined. The driver from Zimbabwe pulled away and brought home a superb win for Baron Motorsport - a household name in the Ferrari Challenge. The Saalocin by KoxRacing Porsche then came under pressure from the #2 JR Motorsport's BMW M6 GT3 driven by Max Weering: positions swapped with 16 minutes to go. Unlike the Dubai 24 Hours, the 6H of Abu Dhabi went on mostly uninterrupted by Code60: a very late caution, though, briefly slowed the action with 10 minutes left on the clock, when the #921 P21 Motorsport Porsche came to a halt on track - and then the race eventually finished under Code60 with 2 minutes to go due to an accident between the #94 ID Racing Porsche and the #218 Sally Racing Cupra at Turn 1. Peter Kox, Stéphane Kox and Nico Pronk thus sealed an impressive third place overall for Saalocin by KoxRacing, as they preceded the recovering #92 Herberth Motorsport Porsche of Häring-Neuhofer-Renauer. "We finished P3 in our first GT3 appearance with Saalocin", wrote Stéphane. "What a car to drive! Great job by our team. Looking forward to ALMS next couple of weeks." Stéphane Kox will in fact be back on track in mid-February as the Asian Le Mans Series kicks off its 2022 season in the UAE. The championship will feature two double-header rounds at Dubai and Yas Marina. The CREVENTIC 24H Series, on the other hand, will make its return to Mugello for the 12 Hour race on March 25th. Last year, two female racers stepped on the podium in Mugello: Samantha Tan in the GT4 category and Karen Gaillard in GTX.