How you can survive the long haul of a 24-hour race
Established in 2006, the Dunlop 24H race is an annual event that takes place at Dubai Autodrome, and is what the organisers describe as ‘one of the ultimate tests for both the endurance of the driver and machine.’ Preparation for this year’s event gets under way on Tuesday January 10, when 90 international teams with more than 400 drivers and 2,000 crew members from every corner of the globe will descend on Dubai to unload their gear and do their initial checks. Following another day of preparation, briefings and familiarisation tours of the track, the night of Wednesday 11 will see the drivers and supporters come together for a welcome party and barbecue.
It’s not until 2pm on Friday 13 that the 24-hour race itself will finally get under way. Open to both professional and semi-professional drivers and teams, there is always good representation of the region. ‘There are local competitors from the UAE and surrounding nations in the Persian Gulf,’ explains Dubai Autodrome’s Paul Velasco. ‘We also have international teams from Europe, Australia, South and North America. The race usually features a variety of Grand Tourer (GT) touring cars, as well as specially-built silhouette cars from a range of marques (Porsche, Ferrari, Mercedes, BMW, Aston Martin, Lotus, Renault, Audi and Lamborghini, to name a few), and range from small-engined Super 2000 hatchbacks to racing-bred sports cars.’
For spectators, the event itself is accessible (not least because admission is free), as are the drivers, who often spend a great deal of time talking to enthusiasts as well as less well-versed spectators during the event. ‘Visitors are allowed in the paddock, which means they get a first-hand feel of the excitement, and can meet drivers and see the teams at work,’ Velasco explains. The paddock will also host activities for children and families, and there will be food and drinks available throughout the event.
Last year’s winning team, Need for Speed Team Schubert BMW Z4 GT3, claimed victory with a particularly multinational driver line-up of Augusto Farfus from Brazil, Edward Sandtsrom from Sweden, Tommy Milner from the US, and German female racer Claudia Hurtgen. But in a race that lasts an exhausting 24 hours, taking part – and crossing the finish line – is as commendable as any win. The philosophy of the event’s Dutch organiser Ivo Breukers Creventic puts an emphasis on the community-spirited aspect of the event. ‘Our goal is to concentrate on the basic element, and that is enjoying racing together. We need each other in order to have a race, because otherwise you’d be driving out there on your own, which makes no sense or fun,’ claim the Creventic promoters. ‘We only invite the teams to Dubai who have respect for each other’s cars, materials and opinions. That’s essential to get the right atmosphere.’ The group also expects all teams to help each other out, no matter their size, when another team is seen to be having problems.
As for the spectators, expect 5,000 to 8,000 sitting on the sidelines. Yet even for the most die-hard of fans, 2pm on Friday to 2pm on Saturday is a big commitment, so it’s fortunate there will be plenty of food and drinks options at the event to keep the crowds refreshed. You can also check out a UAE heritage village set up in the same area. VIP hospitality will be available for the comfort of corporate entertaining and those who fancy using the event for entertaining clients and special guests. And if you can’t find anything you fancy for lunch, fear not – Motorcity is just across the road, which means you’re only a short walk from more restaurant and fast-food options, as well as coffee shops. The Dunlop 24-Hour Race kicks off at 2pm on Friday January 13 and finishes at 2pm on Saturday January 14. Admission is free – download invites at www.dubaiautodrome.com. For more information contact Dubai Autodrome on email@example.com.