x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Wheels in motion for start of UAE motorsport season

New motorsport season starts offering opportunities to partake from karting to high-end budget, 'racing suits all means'

The Dubai Autodrome will host the first National Race Day of the season on October 7.
The Dubai Autodrome will host the first National Race Day of the season on October 7.

DUBAI // The new motorsport season is under starter's orders with the emphasis being placed on affordable racing.

What promises to be the busiest season for the sport in the UAE was given the green light at a media and test day at the Dubai Autodrome.

And the UAE National Racing organisers have packaged the championships to suit every budget and encourage young talents.

"Our national racing suits all means," Paul Velasco, the communications manager of Dubai Autodrome, said. "There is the GT Championship, or you can put your money in the Porsche GT3 Cup Middle East, or the Maserati Trofeo. That's the high-end budget for you.

"But we also got the Radical Cup. A lot of work has gone into Radical Cup to make it cost-effective. And I think the format's really exciting and as a result I believe the Radical Cup this year is going to be very exciting. It's going to be big field.

"Same with the Touring Car. Then we move to Suzuki Swift. If you got a really small budget, there's Suzuki Swift. Really good racing, close racing.

"If you can't afford to do the Swift, hey there's karting. So really, there's no excuse not to be racing if you want to race this season."

The Dubai Autodrome will host the first National Race Day of the season on October 7, with the Total UAE Touring Cars, UAE Sportbikes, Radical Cup and the inaugural FG1000 in action on the opening day.

Later on in the season, the NGK GT Championship, Maserati Trofeo JBF RAK and Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge will also join the calendar, along with the Yas Marina Circuit, which will host three race days.

"After a long off season, where we have been very busy behind the scenes, we are all looking forward to the sound of racing engines and for the chequered flag to start waving," said Ali Fardan Al Fardan, the new chairman of the Dubai Autodrome.

"In recent years we have seen unprecedented growth in motorsport in the UAE despite the global economic climate."

Mohammed ben Sulayem, the president of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE and vice-president of the FIA, welcomed the new calendar and urged organisers to focus more on getting young blood into the sport.

"It's not just about the international races we have here, it's also about the local races and that's what makes motorsports in a country or a region," said the UAE rallying legend.

"We can definitely see a growth in the sport.

"There is the big Formula One and that was the best thing to happen to motorsports here. It was a dream for me and a lot of people who worked to get it here.

"But we have an issue here and the issue is we have to get some young blood into motorsports. There has to be a production line of drivers.

"If we don't think of that, in five years we will not have any local races here. That is why young drivers are very important.

"This is what we, the Dubai Autodrome and Yas Marina Circuit are trying to do.

"This is why we are trying to create affordable championships. It's so important."

arizvi@thenational.ae