It looks like 2011 is going to be even bigger and better than 2010 was, at least from a motor racing perspective. And the action comes thick and fast, with the first big event of the year being the sixth running of the very popular Dubai 24 Hour race next weekend. It all takes place at Dubai Autodrome and we will get to see some 90 cars on track competing for honours across a number of different classes. Almost every manufacturer involved in tin-top racing will be represented, along with some dozen local teams competing against the established European endurance racing teams. All eyes will be on the inaugural entry of three Mercedes AMG SLS GT3 cars.
Abu Dhabi is going to be hosting another round of the southern hemisphere's best tin-top series, the Australian V8 Supercars on the weekend of February 11-12. These cars are possibly the best sounding racing cars that you will see anywhere, with their fire-spitting V8 engines. And in this form of racing, the rounds are among the closest of all forms of motorsport, with overtaking a speciality for these excellent drivers. It will be a big grid and Yas has arranged it so that they will race on the short circuit just to make sure they come round more often - how is that for customer service!
But the V8 Supercars are just the beginning. The event also features the GP2 Asia Series, featuring F1-like single seaters, and the UAE GT Championship. This is the UAE's top national championship with all the major GT brands being represented on the grid, including GT1 world champions Maserati, Ferrari, Porsche, Corvette, KTM, Lotus and Ginetta.
We will also see the return of the GT1 World Championship to the Yas Marina Circuit on March 25-26, featuring the world's fastest GT cars driven by some of the best drivers on the planet. It is all very loud and very fast. Again, the event will be supported by the UAE National Championships, which include sports cars, touring cars and GTs. It will be a fantastic weekend.
Dubai Autodrome will continue to see grids expanding in its national race series as Emiratis and expatriates alike take the opportunity to go racing, especially now that there are two of the world's best circuits right on their doorstep. As you may know, these run effectively as winter series, so come April we will see the completion of the 2010/11 seasons and the announcement of new National Champions.
It is looking highly likely that the UAE's new junior Formula series will get started in early 2011 with a short season of five events and 10 races for the region's best young karters and racers. With races being televised from both Yas Marina and Dubai Autodrome events, the public will again be getting warmed up for the big one in October, the Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 13.
But of course, we will see the start of the UAE's 2011/12 national season with the first event in early October with events in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai - so there is plenty of action to come over the next year.
Barry Hope is a director of GulfSport Racing, which is seeking the first Arab F1 driver through the FG1000 race series. Join the UAE racing community online at www.singleseaterblog.com