- Expo patron Mohammed Ben Sulayem headlines ATCUAE season launch at Dubai Autodrome
Aspiring racers crowded the race paddock at Dubai Autodrome for the return of the popular Emirates Motorsport Expo, organized in collaboration with Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE) and the Dubai Sports Council.
Opening to the public on 2pm on Friday (15 September) at Dubai Autodrome with an expanded line-up of over 60 exhibitors, the exposition hosted attractions including track experiences, food trucks, racing simulators, a kart auction and car exhibits. Local racing teams and companies were on hand to offer a wide range of entry level opportunities for motorsport enthusiasts in all categories of UAE motorsport.
The ATCUAE Season Launch was central to the event, with Expo patron Ben Sulayem and a panel of guest speakers discussing the upcoming activities and opportunities in the local motorsport calendar.
Ben Sulayem said, “With such a large turnout of exhibitors and visitors, we have really seen a growth in Motorsport. This year’s calendar is a reflection of that growth with both national and international events. I look forward to the continued success of the sport.”
Also present on the top table were guest speakers of honour, Faisal Al Sahlawi, General Manager of Dubai Autodrome, and Al Tareq Al Ameri, CEO of Yas Marina Circuit. Highlighting the two circuits working together to meet the demand of motorsport interests in the region.
Other industry speakers included the Expo Director, David Bright, speaking on behalf of Dubai Kartdrome, Nila McCann for the ATCUAE, Rob Barff of Dragon Racing, Guy Sheffield of Rotax Max Challenge, Dominic Simon of the FIA F4 UAE Championship, Craig Thompson for Radical Middle East Cup, Phil Anson for IAME X30 Challenge and Phil Ellis for the TRD86 Cup.
Among the announcements was the return of the fan favourite NGK tracing series to the National Race Days. Returning for the sixth year running, and forming the core of local race weekends, the series features six categories of various racing vehicles, including GTs, touring cars, and the Clio Cup.
Al Sahlawi said, “With the six classes available and assembled into one incredible grid, the NGK Racing Series offers a great platform for drivers of various levels in their career to compete.”
The FIA F4 UAE Championship, in collaboration with the ATCUAE and AUH Motorsports, had a strong debut last season and now looks to expand its grid and bring in more racers from around the globe.
The TRD86 Cup will also make a comeback, and the series has now introduced an ‘Arrive & Race’ option, which allows drivers to simply show up on the race weekend and participate, without having to manage vehicle and team operations in between.
For two-wheeled track enthusiasts the UAE Sportbike Championship also returns to the season calendar, as well as the introduction of the Bahrain Superbike Championship on some rounds.
The starting point for most drivers is karting, and there is no shortage of competitions available for all ages. The Bambino Cup Racing Series, for ages five to eight years old, debuts this season, joining well established karting championships such as IAME X30 Challenge, Rotax Max Challenge, Sodi World Series Sprint Series, the Dubai Kartdrome Endurance Championship and the Dubai O Plate.
The Formula Gulf Academy (FGA) is back to help the next generation of racing superstars scale back on their karting development and move into formula single seater racing. Many of their young drivers also race in Europe and Asia, utilizing the FGA to get ahead in the off-season.
Renowned international championships will feature alongside local racing. The Lamborghini Super Trofeo Middle East will bring back the roar of Huracán Super Trofeos for the second year, the MRF Challenge also returns for another season, and the popular Porsche GT3 Cup Middle East continues to be one of the top tiers of racing available in the region.
The highlight of the mid-season will be the 13th edition of the Hankook 24H Dubai, featuring up to 100 race cars, from teams from around the globe, coming to Dubai Autodrome to challenge the legendary endurance race.
The season calendar for the off-road segment was also confirmed. Classics such as the Dubai International Baja and Emirates Desert Championship are set to return alongside rounds of the Dubai Motocross and Emirates Motorsports Club Autocross.
The UAE motorsport calendar has expanded considerably over the years and the industry supporting it continues to grow with it. The Motorsport Business Park at Dubai Autodrome, announced last March and due for completion in December of this year, is set to become the hub of motorsport business in the region.
Dubai Autodrome General Manager, Faisal Al Sahlawi said, “With the opening of the Motorsport Business Park, we hope to foster a unique motorsport ecosystem that will provide support and growth for the industry.”
Adjacent to the Business Park is the Dragon Racing facility, which is home to the new Emirates Motor Racing Academy, a motor racing school designed to train drivers of all levels and is full recognised by the ATCUAE.
There are plenty of events and initiatives for motoring enthusiasts to get excited about and the Emirates Motorsport Expo has developed to meet the growing interest.
Expo Director, David Bright concluded, “The atmosphere today was incredible and the race paddock was buzzing with activity. We were pleased from the tremendous turnout and support, both from the exhibitors and aspiring racers.”
“We were especially encouraged by the large numbers of Emiratis attending, and we hope to see many of them racing soon.” Bright added.