x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Speed on the track, not the roads, says the general manager of raceway

Ramadan races scheduled every Friday over the Holy Month at the Al Ain Raceway.

AL AIN // Guy Sheffield, the general manager of Al Ain Raceway, believes he has found an answer to the UAE's long-time problem with speeding on the roads.

"Tell them to come to our place, sit in a kart, put their foot down and then get up to 100kph and that should give them their fix," said the Englishman, who believes this is one of the best ways for youngsters, in particular, to get their need for speed out of their system.

Sheffield and his team will this Friday host the first of four Ramadan Karting events at the Al Ain track, which will take place on every Friday during the Holy Month, starting at 9pm.

Now in its third year, this four-round competition continues to grow with 25 drivers expected to compete over the next four weeks from all backgrounds and with different levels of experience. The karts reach an average speed of 72kph with the driver just a few inches off the tack's surface.

"There are a lot of petrol heads in this country and it would be much better if they could get that adrenalin rush in a safe environment, rather than feeling the need to go quick on the roads," said Sheffield.

"The karts are super quick and, because you are so low, it feels even faster. It's an amazing experience. The Ramadan races have proved to be hugely popular with drivers, some of whom are really new to the sport, and spectators who don't want to wait until the Formula One comes to Yas Marina later this year.

"We have probably the best facility for karting in the whole of the Middle East and, while we are a bit out in the sticks in terms of all the Emirates, this has become a serious motorsport event in the country and it has got bigger every year.

"There are some quick boys who take part and they are always happy to hand out tips to the guys who are new to all of this. So it is a great way to become a better driver and the races are terrific to watch."

Each event will consist of a 10-minute practice session and then two 20 minute races. Drivers will score points based upon finishing positions and these are tallied together to determine the overall winners.

Prizes include entry into the sixth round of the Al Ain Raceway Kart Club Honda Championship 2011/12, held at Al Ain, for the overall winner, and a complimentary one-and-a-half hour "Mini Prix" Private Event for up to 10 drivers.

"It takes a lot of commitment to become any sort of professional in motorsport, but this is how most drivers start," said Sheffield. "Almost every Formula One driver began this way, including Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, so maybe this is where a star of the future will begin."

ncameron@thenational.ae


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