Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Looking to form a bond between drivers and spectators at Yas

Yas Marina Racing School hopes Aston Martin GT4 will generate interest in fans.

ABU DHABI // A gleaming, speeding Aston Martin may conjure up images of James Bond, but the Yas Marina Race School is hoping the sight of the famous car negotiating the chicanes of the capital's grand prix track will inspire residents to get behind the wheel in search of their own inner-thrill-seeker.

Tony Whitaker and Saeed al Mehairi are competing in the Aston GT4 during this season's UAE GT Championship, which saw them this weekend pit their wits against some of the country's best talents in the series' sixth round.

The race, which lasted one hour and included a mandatory pit stop to allow a driver change, was yesterday won by House of Portier duo Karim al Azhari and Fabien Giroix.

"Spectators often go to race meetings and think, 'Wouldn't it be great to drive that or be a passenger?'" said Whitaker, who is also the chief instructor at the race school. "But what we are doing is showing people the car and then actually giving them the opportunity to race it at the school."

Whitaker said the initiative's main aim is to help the country develop a growing interest in not just the annual Formula One race, but motorsports in general.

"More often than not, the people who come to the school will come more than once. They get the bug," he said. "Some of them then take things two or three steps further and apply for their race licence, so it's very much a way of getting more people on to the grid in national racing as well as creating an interest in people who have never had the chance before."

Al Mehairi, an Emirati driver who started in karts before moving to touring cars, said the feeling behind the wheel of the GT4 is hard to describe.

"It's a great feeling, but that doesn't do it justice," he said. "It makes you feel like a professional racer and the fact you are driving on one of the world's best tracks makes it even better."

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Al Ahli's Ismail Al Hammadi, left, battles for the ball during the Arabian Gulf Cup final between against Al Jazira at Hazza bin Zayed Stadium on April 19, 2014. Al Hammadi hit the game-winner in the 81st minute for Ahli. Al Ittihad

Al Ahli maintain course for domestic treble with victory over Al Jazira in Arabian Gulf Cup

Al Ahli maintained their hopes of a domestic treble with a superb comeback victory against Al Jazira in the Arabian Gulf Cup final on Saturday night.

 Alex Kacaniklic, left, of Fulham tackles Christian Eriksen of Tottenham Hotspur during their Premier League match at White Hart Lane on April 19, 2014, in London, England. Clive Rose / Getty Images

Tottenham keep pace in chase for European places with victory over Fulham

Swansea appear to be safe after rallying past Newcastle while Crystal Palace continue their winning streak

 On a track described as a ‘tyre-killer’ in Shanghai, Lewis Hamilton went untested on his way to a 34th pole – the most by a British driver – yesterday. Carlos Barria / Reuters

Hamilton has sympathy for fans hung out to dry with wet tyre rules

The Briton takes his career's 34th pole - the most by a British driver - but sympathises it was not ideal for the ticket-paying public.

 Yuzvendra Chahal, centre, and the Royal Challengers Bangalore teammates celebrate after the bowlers set up an easy win over Mumbai Indians. Pawan Singh / The National

Bowlers set up Bangalore as Patel stand tall over Mumbai

Mumbai bowlers gave early hope but Parthiv Patel and AB de Villiers' unbeaten stand of 99 ensures second defeat for the men in blue in Dubai.

 Roelof Kotzee is leading UAE to unchartered territory. Sarah Dea / The National

UAE step into the unknown ahead of Asian Five Nations

Performance manager Roelof Kotze will give 12 players their first experience of international rugby, but there is also minimal information on Singapore ahead of first Test in Dubai on Wednesday, reports Paul Radley.

 Novak Djokovic of Serbia winces in pain during his semi-final match against Roger Federer of Switzerland at the Monte Carlo Masters on April 19, 2014. Federer prevailed to set up an all-Swiss final with Stanislas Wawrinka. SEBASTIEN NOGIER / EPA

Ailing Djokovic will ‘just rest now’ while Nadal not pressing the panic button

Djokovic says only rest will help is injured right wrist after he falls to Roger Federer on Saturday, and Nadal suffers just his third career defeat in Monte Carlo when he slumped to a shock 7-6, 6-4 quarter-final loss to compatriot Ferrer on Friday.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National