Plans are in motion to establish Dubai Autodrome as one of the best multipurpose racing circuits and testing facilities in the world as the venue prepares to host the stars of international cross country rallying next month.
The Autodrome’s existing world-class motor sport infrastructure and amenities made it an obvious choice last year as the official home of the Dubai International Baja powered by AW Rostamani and Nissan.
When the double World Cup event returns from March 7-9, work will already be under way on phase two of the Dubai Autodrome Business Park which has rapidly become the hub of regional motorsport business since the first phase was completed last August.
Located at the heart of the 5.39-km race circuit, the new 3,150 square-meter facility is scheduled for completion by the end of November this year, with a third phase already in the planning stages by the developer, Union Properties.
The business park has already attracted a host of motorsports and automotive related businesses, and plans also include the addition of other testing facilities targeted at manufacturers for off-road, warm weather, autonomous vehicle and EV testing.
“The continued development of the facilities at Dubai Autodrome are the very reason why we were so keen to make this our home for the Dubai International Baja,” said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, president of the Automobile and Touring Club for the UAE and FIA Vice President for Sport.
“Our intention over the coming years is to attract a growing entry of top teams, drivers and riders from across the Middle East and overseas, and having a world-class base for the rally is a huge asset.”
Faisal Al Sahlawi, general manager of Dubai Autodrome, added: “We’re pleased to have this world-class rally event return to Dubai Autodrome and we look forward to welcoming drivers and riders from around the world to compete here.
“We will continue to work closely with the ATCUAE to develop high-profile events, like the Dubai International Baja, to meet the growing demand for motorsport in the region.”
Held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, the third edition of the Dubai International Baja is the second round of this year’s FIA World Cup for Cross Country Bajas for cars and buggies and the opening round of the FIM Bajas World Cup for bikes and quads.
The event sends a powerful line-up of cars, buggies, bikes and quads onto a spectacular two-day route through the Al Qudra desert.
Competitors head out from Dubai Autodrome into the desert on the morning of Friday, March 8, to tackle a dramatic 407km special stage which will be run again the following morning before the event finishes back at the Autodrome at 12:30 the same day.
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Two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso sparked his team to victory Sunday in the rain-hit 24 Hours of Daytona.
The 37-year-old added the epic US endurance event to a list of career achievements that includes 32 F1 race wins and world titles in 2005 and 2006.
“Amazing. Just an amazing experience from the test and perfect execution for the race,” Alonso said. “We were competitive in everything – dry, wet, night, day.”
Alonso got his first taste of endurance racing last year at Daytona, struggling with mechanical problems to finish 38th overall, but he went on to win last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
This year, Alonso drove the winning car into Daytona’s Victory Lane, celebrated with a Spanish flag draped over his shoulders and pondered where the victory fits among his career highlights.
“I think it will rank very high,” Alonso said. “To win endurance races in iconic places like Daytona is great. I haven’t been doing this very long. I’ve been in the right place at the right moment so I’m happy for that.”
Formula E driver Antonio Felix Da Costa says the feelgood factor in the paddock has helped him out of the doldrums and back into form after a four-year winless drought.
The Portuguese driver claimed his first victory since January 2015 at the season opener in Saudi Arabia in December and is targeting further success in 2019.
Da Costa held off defending champion Jean-Eric Vergne to take the checkered flag in Riyadh and clinch just the second victory of his career.
“It has been nice because a lot of people who are there with me have struggled like I have,” Da Costa told CNN ahead of the season’s second race in Marrakesh earlier this month.
“We’ve all been through these tough times — it’s not easy when you have two years of no good results and you stlil get along well and keep the friendships and working methods going
“I was pleased for myself but also the team around me. I saw some tears from some of the old boys.”
For Costa, the victory brought an end to a difficult four years in which he had often left the track frustrated after failing to secure a single victory since his triumph in Argentina.
The next race takes place in Chile’s capital Santiago on January 26.