Endurance karting in Dubai

We spend 12 hours behind the wheel at Dubai Kartdrome

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Ever wanted to push yourself to the limit, but don’t quite fancy jumping out of a plane at 4,000m? Endurance kart racing may be the way to go, and with round two of the Dubai Kartdrome Endurance Championship 2012 at Dubai Kartdrome kicking off on Friday May 11, anyone can get involved. An annual event since 2004, the competition has become known as ‘extreme racing’, with competitors required to push themselves to the limit by competing several hour-long stints over a 24- or 12-hour period. Round two is a 12-hour race, taking place overnight to try to avoid the steadily increasing daytime temperatures.

Curiously, a karter who was raising money for charity in the UK inadvertently broke the world record for endurance karting in 2010 – and only found out about it last month. He completed 1,696km in a 24-hour period, at an average speed of 70kph, beating the previous record by more than 320km.

British motoring enthusiast and Dubai resident Phill Tromans, 31, has taken part in a number of endurance races in the UAE. He explains that it’s far more challenging than you might initially expect, and recalls his first brush with the sport. ‘I’ve taken part in about a dozen endurance kart races over the past few years. The first was in 2008 and was the first time I’d done any serious karting, save for messing about with mates. I thought: How hard can it be? I soon found out that spending several hours in a kart, rather than several minutes, is a very different proposition, and ended up in an ambulance after my back went into spasm in the third hour.’

Registration is still open for this month’s race, with up to six drivers allowed to compete each team. In the race, there will be a maximum of 30 teams and 150 drivers, competing across pro, rookie and corporate categories. While the race is open to all drivers over the age of 16, Tromans has a few words of warning for anyone signing up. ‘You need to be fit, particularly in your core, arms and shoulders. Although the speeds aren’t that high, karting is one of the most physically taxing forms of motorsport outside of single-seater racing; the forces involved when cornering are considerable and doing hundreds of laps can take it out of you,’ he says.

Just as with any other sport, he explains that he steps up his own workout routine in the run-up to a race. ‘Cardio work is fairly important, but it’s best to focus on endurance work – you need to be able to work your core muscles thousands of times over a 24-hour period, resisting G-forces and moving yourself around in the kart, as well as holding the wheel and maintaining quick reactions.’ And if you think you’ll be fine because you’re already pretty well built, it might be time to reconsider. ‘I’ve known people much stronger than me flag in a race because after half an hour they can’t keep up the work necessary,’ he explains.

Preparation is key in any endurance race, and you’ll need to allow plenty of time to get your body in shape. If you’re not feeling fit enough for this one, round three is expected to take place in October. It may require putting in those hours at the gym – but at least you can get your kicks without having to pack a parachute.

Entry is Dhs6,750 per team of four to six drivers (enter online). Free for spectators. Race starts 9pm on Friday May 11, finishes 9am on Saturday 12. Dubai Kartdrome, next to Dubai Autodrome, MotorCity, www.dubaiautodrome.com (04 367 8700).

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