British professional racing driver Tom Onslow-Cole will contest Dubai 24 Hours, the 24H Series season-opener, on 9 January 2015 with European Le Mans Series GTE championship-winners, RAM Racing, in the team's new Mercedes SLS AMG GT3.
Onslow-Cole, who has already tested the V8-machine at Silverstone, flew to Dubai in mid-December to put it through its paces on the 5.3km long Dubai Autodrome, alongside team owner and fellow racing driver Cheerag Arya (IN).
"I've been talking to the team for a while and when Dan [Shufflebottom] put a deal to me for the Dubai 24 Hours, I jumped at the chance," commented Onslow-Cole. "The SLS has a great endurance record and the team's accolades speak for themselves.
"At both the Silverstone and Dubai tests, the car ran faultlessly; it was fast out the box even before we got to work on set-up."
Dubai 24 Hours was the first twice-around-the-clock endurance race that Onslow-Cole contested but now the 27-year old can add Spa 24 Hours and Barcelona 24 Hours to that ever-growing list.
"Dubai 2014 was my first experience of 24-hour racing as a driver," he continues. "I'd been to events before but only as a guest of a team or friend of a driver. I was totally captivated by it. I didn't sleep at all, I just sat on the pit wall absolutely wired. Obviously, I'm much more experienced now and I'm more than happy to make the most of my nap times, but this place will always be special to me. Ultimately, it was the place that got me hooked on endurance racing and swayed me away from my 2014 BTCC deal."
The Dubai International Autodrome has hosted the 24-hour endurance race since 2006. The race sees GT and touring cars battle it out in 12 different classes, with the GT3s aiming for the overall race win.
"The big thing in Dubai is the pure size of the grid and the speed differentials that come with it," explained Onslow-Cole. "With just under 100 cars taking the start, clear laps are going to be luxury."
Onslow-Cole will drive the RAM Racing Mercedes SLS alongside Arya, Adam Christodoulou (GB) and Thomas Jäger (DE).
"I have three great team-mates and a second-to-none pit crew. I've always respected RAM Racing and what they have achieved in such a short space of time. In 24-hour racing I haven't yet seen things run perfectly to plan, what we have to do is catch the curve balls as they're thrown and we'll come away with a result."
The Dubai 24 Hours starts at 1400hrs local time on 9 January 2015.