x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Dubai's 24-hour world display

As you read this, more than 400 drivers will either be zooming around the Dubai Autodrome or grabbing a few minutes of rest or a bite to eat.

As you read this, more than 400 drivers will either be zooming around the Dubai Autodrome or grabbing a few minutes of rest or a bite to eat. If you live nearby, you will no doubt have been listening to each of the 90 teams in competition since 2pm yesterday, when the race was scheduled to start. The Dunlop 24 Hours of Dubai, of course, is no small race.

Over the past week, the teams have assembled from the four corners of the planet along with their cars, in the region of 2,500 mechanics and all their equipment. Some of the world's top marques, including the likes of Porsche, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Lotus and Lamborghini, are currently locked in an epic battle of endurance, strategy, teamwork, speed and stamina.

But, with the sixth edition of the 24 Hours marking the start of the international road-racing season, it is an extremely important event for motorsport across the globe - and it happens on our own doorstep.

Given the quality of cars and drivers involved, and given that there is always a strong local contingent entering, it allows UAE racers to test their skills against the best from elsewhere in the world. An encouraging sign is that there are a number of Emiratis involved among the 30 drivers or so from across this region.

The Dunlop 24 Hours is a real barometer that shows the increasing quality of racing in Dubai. True, there is a long way for us all to go, but given how our racers have been showing improved standings over each of the past five years in the face of international competition, it is very satisfying to know that efforts are paying off.

The international contingent consists of specialist endurance teams who know their business inside out. They have to be sure their cars can last the distance, so their technical skills and ability to solve problems are second to none.

If you are in the vicinity and can hear the roar of the engines, spare a thought to how this is good old grassroots racing, practiced across the world by true enthusiasts. You or I could enter it ourselves - if we had enough money, of course. It can be an expensive business taking part in this type of racing, but we could always get together a Renault Clio Cup racer and split the cost across a team of say, six drivers.

There are about 12 different classes involved in the Dunlop 24 Hours, with pros and semi-pros in the top class with their exotic cars, and then all manner of classes including several levels of diesels, small cars, saloons and our Clio. This is all great stuff for the teams, but I have to admit it can be confusing for spectators. The good news is that you can get close up to the action by wandering around the paddock where the teams are hard at work (or sleeping).

You might not have been down to the Autodrome anytime between the green light and the chequered flag, which is soon to fly, but as a motorsport enthusiast you will be heartened by the advances made through this kind of racing. There's a great deal of local motorsport to see in the UAE during the remainder of this season, but it's always important to have the big guys round to grace our tracks.


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