New season shows bright future for UAE motor sport

New season shows bright future for UAE motor sport

24.09.2014: Sulayem launches exciting 2014-15 calendar with karting, Baja series, international events setting the pace photo caption: Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President

Sulayem launches exciting 2014-15 calendar with karting, Baja series, international events setting the pace

photo caption:  Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President, ATCUAE, Vice President FIA and Mr. Khalid Almidfa - General Authority for Youth and Sports Welfare at today’s official press conference.

The Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE today pointed to an increasingly bright future for motor sport in the Emirates with the official launch of an exciting 2014-15 season showing healthy growth in key areas.

Headlined again by the Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on 23 November, the new season is characterised by the growing popularity of karting, expansion of the national Baja rally series introduced last year, and a stronger than ever line-up of international circuit racing events.

The continued success of the UAE Rotax Max Challenge is seen as key to the future of UAE motor sport, which needs fresh young talent arriving at entry level and rising through the ranks towards Grand Prix racing.

For this year’s 12-round national karting championship, run between Dubai Kartdrome, Al Ain Raceway and Yas Marina Circuit and again crossing the border to Seeb in Oman, the ATCUAE has issued 125 competitor licences, an increase of 25% on last year.

In addition, the opportunities for young drivers to progress from karting and develop their skills is highlighted by a busy calendar of  single-seater and touring car circuit racing activity fitted into a new season featuring more than 120 competitive events.

“This growing popularity of the Rotax Max Challenge here is very encouraging, as one of our main goals is to strengthen motor sport at grass roots level and ultimately help guide more young drivers towards the top levels of the sport,” said ATCUAE President Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

“This is now becoming more and more of a team sport, with many of the manufacturers present, and the paddock at events is looking more and more like a mini F1 set-up.”

Added Sulayem, the FIA Vice President: “The Government has made a huge investment in motor sport, and it’s our duty to work hard to attract and develop more young local talent to make sure that the growth we have seen in the sport in recent years is sustainable.

 “We have the infrastructure now which allows drivers entering karting at the age of eight to develop their skills and progress through single-seater and touring car events towards Grand Prix racing, which is the ultimate goal.”  

“I’m very pleased that the season ahead shows many opportunities for young drivers to progress from karting and develop their skills through the many single-seater and touring car circuit racing events we have in the calendar.”

Sulayem was joined at today’s press conference by senior representatives of other key motor sport stakeholders to preview the 2014-15 season which highlights how UAE motor sport has evolved over the last two decades from the pioneering days of rallying in the 1970s.

Significantly, the Emirates Desert Championship, the new national Baja rally series launched last year for cars, buggies, motor cycles and quads, has quickly become a major attraction, and for 2014-15 has been extended from four to six rounds, the first of which will be run on 3 October. 

Organised by the Emirates Motors Sport Federation, the championship is run with the full support of the ATCUAE which has issued 150 competitor licences to date for the series, with entries expected to climb past 100 for the first time next weekend.

The Emirates Desert Championship takes its place on the 2014-15 calendar alongside established events like the UAE Touring Car Championship, the UAE Radical Winter Cup, the Gulf 12 Hours at Yas Marina Circuit in December supported by the Maserati Trofeo Championship, and the tenth anniversary Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai in January.

Other prominent events include the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East, which features race weekends at Dubai Autodrome in December and next February, while Yas Marina Circuit will for the first time host the Asia, European and North American finals of the Ferrari Challenge in December.

Headlining the UAE motor sport season for a sixth year, the F1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix guarantees another spectacular November race weekend at Yas Marina Circuit, the main attraction on this occasion being supported by the GP2 and GP3 series’.

photo caption:  Mohammed Ben Sulayem and Mr. Khalid Almidfa along with other motor sport officials at today’s official press conference

Once again prominent on the calendar are the Dubai International Rally, the UAE’s longest- running international sports fixture, and the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, the Middle East’s first world championship motor sport event.

The 36th Dubai Rally brings the 2014 FIA Middle East Championship to a climax on 26-27 November while the Desert Challenge celebrates its 25th anniversary from 27 March -2 April as part of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies, and the FIM Cross-Country Rallies World Championship for bikes.

Added to the Emirates Desert Championship and the big international stage provided for riders by the Desert Challenge, action on two wheels also features the Sportsbike Championship, with 600 cc and Rookies classes, as well as the National Motocross series.

- Tony Lewis, TOtal Communications Dubai - also photos


24.09.2014 / MaP

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