Yesterday saw the final day of the V8 Supercar Championship, the latest motorsport to come to the capital after Formula One and the GP2 Asia series.
Roar of thunder as V8 racers hit town
Abu Dhabi // Families soaked up the sun and the atmosphere at Yas Marina Circuit for yesterday's final day of the V8 Supercar Championship, the latest motorsport to come to the capital after Formula One and the GP2 Asia series. Fans ranged from die-hard enthusiasts to brand new converts of the sport, paying up to Dh425 (US$115) for a one-day ticket.
"It was wonderful," said Alice Eugenio, a 54-year-old nurse from the Philippines. "It is our first time watching a car race because we don't have it in our country. I'm really very excited." Lynda Thompson, a 52-year-old from Scotland, agreed. "It's fantastic. I've never seen anything like that. It's so well organised, the place is beautiful and everybody's smiling." She attended the opening race day on Friday and returned yesterday for more excitement.
"The building is amazing. I couldn't imagine how they managed to come up with something like that out of nothing," she said. "I think Emiratis must be proud of what they've achieved in a very short period." It is the first time the initial race of the championship has been held outside the race's home countries. After Abu Dhabi the championship moves on to Bahrain before returning to Australia and New Zealand. It ends in Sydney in December.
The top 29 drivers from Australia and New Zealand took part in the 400km race. Their cars are based on the Ford Falcon or Holden Commodore. Unlike Formula One, where the outcome of a race is often determined by who has the best car, V8 races are decided more by driving skills. As the cars lined up on the grid, nine-year-old Cassandra Miranda, watching in the stands, could barely contain her excitement. "It'll be really loud," she said.
Her mother, Cheryl, 39, may not have shared quite her level of enthusiasm, but her daughter and five-year-old son, Cristiano, had been keen to see the racing spectacle. "It's nice to get a chance to see a live race instead of watching it on TV," said Mrs Miranda, a sales operations manager from India. It was a similar story for Harpinder Kaur, 35, a housewife from India. "We came here for our little girl," she said.
"She badly wants to watch a car race. Since she missed the previous rally, we bought her to watch this one. She's very excited about it." The support races saw UAE drivers match skills with the V8 drivers, which proved especially exciting for local followers of the sport. As well as mortorsport fanatics, there were spectators who were just looking a fun weekend activity. "I've never been to a car race before so I have no idea what to expect," said Camilla Quinn, 30, a client services manager from Britain. "I came because I have no other plans today so it's just a day out."
"The event went very well. It is very positive," said Kawthar bin Sulayem, the regional media manager of the Yas Marina Circuit. "Our standard of success is when we see people enjoying their time here and having a great weekend with their families." firstname.lastname@example.org * additional reporting by Lynne Nahhas.