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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 August 2018

Track days: legal ways to race your own car in the UAE

There is plenty of fun to be had on two or four wheels at the country's top racetracks

Yas Marina Circuit's events include the chance to drive your own car on its drag strip. Yas Marina Circuit
Yas Marina Circuit's events include the chance to drive your own car on its drag strip. Yas Marina Circuit

From superminis to supercars, if your ride has a hint of sportiness about it, then there will always be the temptation to put your foot down, particularly on the open road. But instead of stupidly spending your entire salary on speeding tickets and attracting the attention of the local traffic police, there is another (legal) option: head to a motor-racing circuit for a track day or event.

Yas Marina Circuit

Want to trace the racing lines of Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel et al? You’re in luck, because the UAE’s best-known track, Yas Marina Circuit, offers a lot more besides the annual Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The regular car track days allow you to take your road car around YMC in the company of other velocity enthusiasts, and cost from Dh590 if pre-booked online, or Dh690. The next event is on August 13, from 8pm.

Own a two-wheeled steed, rather than a car? No problem: there are also bike track days, which cost the same as the four-wheeled equivalent. August 17 is the next date to put in your diary, from 8pm.

Alternatively you can get sideways with the Yas Drift Nights and Freestyle Drift sessions. Entry fees vary from Dh320 to Dh650 for these tyre-smoking events, with the next Yas Drift Night on September 28, from 8pm. Spectators are also welcome, for a small entrance fee at some of the events.

Or for a straight-line test of your car’s forward momentum, at the regular drag nights you can face off in head-to-heads against other drivers, from Dh320. Spectators can also attend (Dh25, or Dh200 for a VIP pass). The next one is on September 6, from 6.30pm.

For all of the Yas Marina Circuit’s latest open events, point your browser this way. Each event comes with its own terms and conditions, but the most important rules are you need a full UAE driving licence or a recognised international licence, while your car needs to be in roadworthy condition.

You can also drive a range of flash motors at the circuit with the DriveYas Experiences, including Ferraris, Aston Martins and even a Formula 3000 single-seater racer – discounts on the full prices are available from now until August 31.

ABU DHABI - UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - 04OCT2016 - Adam Workman takes a drive of the new Jaguar experience at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National (to go with Adam Workman for Weekend) ID: 83262 *** Local Caption *** RK0410-DRIVING09.jpg
A Jaguar driving experience at Yas Marina Circuit. Ravindranath K / The National

Dubai Autodrome

Dubai’s top race circuit, the Autodrome in the appropriately named Motor City, also hosts track days. If you’re a first-timer at the circuit, you first need to take part in one of the novice track evenings (Dh630; the next evening is on August 24, from 5.30pm). Then, from Dh840, you can move on to the full track sessions, with a discount of 20 per cent until the end of August when booking online with the promo code "TrackDay". Similar conditions apply to YMC in terms of your driving licence and car’s roadworthiness.

There are also Roll Racing events, which welcome all street-legal cars and SUVs to compete in rolling-start two-vehicle dashes on a 250-metre stretch of track. Entry is Dh420, while spectators can watch for Dh20. The next events are on August 2 and September 27, both from 7pm. Online bookings with the promo code "#RollRacingDXB" will receive a 20 per cent discount until the end of August.

The Autodrome’s Adrenaline Experiences, meanwhile, feature an array of drives, from Renault Clios and Audis to Porsches, Ferraris and McLarens, as well as passenger rides, from Dh350.

Panna Munyal takes part in emergency driving drills in one of a fleet of Audi TTs. Courtesy Dubai Autodrome
On track in an Audi TT at Dubai Autodrome. Dubai Autodrome

Get your racing licence

If all of that has revved you up to go one stage further, you can currently apply for a course to get a FIA-approved racing licence at Yas Marina Circuit. To check availability and for more information, call 800 YAS (927) or 02 659 9800.

Dubai Autodrome also offers courses for various racing licences – contact the track on 800 AUTODROME (2886 37663) or 04 806 2220.

Karting

A multitude of Formula One greats got their start in go-karting, so the seat-of-the-pants racing is certainly not just for children. The UAE has a multitude of tracks – follow the links below for more details:

Al Ain Raceway, Al Ain

Al Forsan International Sports Resort, Abu Dhabi

Dubai Kartdrome, Dubai

Emirates Kart Zone, Dubai

RAK Track, Ras Al Khaimah

Yas Marina Circuit’s KartZone, Abu Dhabi – KartZone has previously offered drives on the main F1 circuit as well as its karting track, but it is currently closed for refurbishment

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