x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Simulator offers extreme experience for speed freaks

Virtual motorists can drive at nearly three times the UAE speed limit around digitally enhanced F1 race tracks when they strap into the Xxtreme Simulation, a Formula One racing simulator.

Aishwarya Singh, 10, puts her foot down in a Ferrari F1 simulator at Xxtreme Simulation. Many believe such simulators offer drivers an adrenalin rush they might othewise seek on the streets. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Aishwarya Singh, 10, puts her foot down in a Ferrari F1 simulator at Xxtreme Simulation. Many believe such simulators offer drivers an adrenalin rush they might othewise seek on the streets. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

DUBAI // Drivers who feel the need for speed can now get their kicks on a Dh1 million racing simulator, rather than on the emirate’s roads.

Virtual motorists can drive at nearly three times the speed limit around digitally enhanced F1 race tracks when they strap into the Xxtreme Simulation, a Formula One racing simulator in Oud Metha, which bosses hope will help rid people of the urge to drive dangerously.

“Here you can race, crash and you don’t have to be patient,” said Hansika Ratan, a director at Xxtreme Simulation. “You can experience the rush of racing but do the safe driving on the roads to minimise accidents. Here you are in total control, unlike on the roads. You can speed up here to 350 kilometres per hour, enjoy the thrills and also know how it is to crash.”

Motorists said giving people an outlet to drive as fast as possible, even virtually, could help to make the roads safer.

“If I think back to when I got my licence at 18, I only wanted to race,” said Christian Weber, 31, a Danish expatriate and car enthusiast.

“You think you are a champion even before you get a licence. It’s good for the youth to learn that you can’t speed on the roads or the game is over in real life.”

Mr Weber said the experience of using the simulator was one of a kind.

“I have never tried anything as real as this in Europe or anywhere else. It’s not like you press the gas pedal down to the bottom and race like in computers. It’s full simulation.

“I haven’t raced at F1 but this is the closest you get to the real thing. You have the helmet, the uniform and the loud engine sound.”

The centre, which opened two weeks ago, has eight simulators. Racers can take their pick of their favourite cars, which include the Ferrari, Red Bull, Force India and Lotus. Each race lasts about 15 minutes with an additional five minutes preparation time and costs Dh50 on weekdays and Dh65 on weekends.

All the controls are identical to a Formula One car.

“Our centre is dedicated to Formal One simulators. The technology used here is similar to what Formula One drivers use,” said Mrs Ratan.

Visitors can compete with each other at the same time or have their racing records saved to come back another time.

Shaiq Khan, 37, an ardent F1 fan, said he liked being able to choose tracks from Abu Dhabi to Australia. “There are 19 F1 circuits and I could do Sao Paulo one day, Bahrain another and the Abu Dhabi track another time,” said the Indian banker.

“I have been to the Ferrari Park in Abu Dhabi but they have the standard tracks. Here you can customise the tracks to suit your experience and the graphics on the screen are also lifelike.”

Mr Khan said a few minutes on the simulator can work up a sweat.

“The adrenalin rush is so high that you sweat a lot and burn a lot of calories. It is a good place to relax and unwind as well.”

pkannan@thenational.ae