Ben Sulayem: Formula 4 UAE will be ‘big step forward for Middle East motorsport’

UAE motoring president Mohammed ben Sulayem is touting the upcoming Formula 4 UAE Championship as a major step in the development of motorsport in the nation and region.

President of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE, Mohammed ben Sulayem. Reem Mohammed / The National
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DUBAI // Mohammed ben Sulayem, president of the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE) and the Emirates Motor Sport Federation, is expecting motorsport in the country to take a “big step forward” in the coming season as the Formula 4 UAE Championship makes its debut on the calendar.

The Formula 4 UAE is a championship designed to offer young racing drivers an opportunity to take the first step from karting into the world of single-seater racing and it will be the only national championship that qualifies for FIA Super Licence points, which are vital for drivers wishing to move up the ladder of motorsport and ultimately reach Formula One.

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“As we all know, motorsport is changing, just like any other sport and it is our responsibility to offer a good and affordable product to our fans to attract them and to sustain motorsport,” said Ben Sulayem at the Dubai Autodrome on Friday during the first staging of the Emirates Motorsport Expo.

“The UAE Formula 4 Championship is hugely important for the region, as it provides a perfect next step up from karting for young drivers, without breaking the bank.

“The Formula 4 model is tried and tested and a big step forward for Middle East motorsport.”

The Formula 4 UAE, which will feature 18 races held across six weekends between October 28-29 and March 10-11 at the Dubai Autodrome and the Yas Marina Circuit, is aimed at drivers in the 15-20 age group and 10 cars – representing Energy Dubai F4 Racing, Abu Dhabi Racing, Rasgaira Motorsports Team, Qatar Motor & Motorsport Federation (QMMF) and Dragon Racing - are already confirmed for the grid.

“We have 10 cars from the UAE and Qatar committed to the championship, which is a great start for the first season,” said Ben Sulayem. “However, we hope to supplement these numbers with cars coming in from overseas and we have adopted the same car that is currently used in the Italian, German, Spanish and North European championships.

“As we run a season through the winter, this provides a perfect opportunity for the European teams to come out here and race during their own off season.”

Organisers of all the other championships in the UAE should also be expecting increased participation in their events given the number of people who visited the Motorsport Expo, listened to the keynote addresses from team principals and championship owners, and took passenger rides in various race cars around the circuit.

“Being the very first Motorsport Expo for the UAE, it was a bit of an unknown to see how the reception would be,” said Bert Grogor, sponsorship and business development manager at the Dubai Autodrome. “So we were very happy to see the reception we got.

“When we announced we are doing the very first UAE Motorsport Expo, the aim was not to make it a motoring exhibition, like there are so many in Dubai. It was purely, exclusively motorsport - race cars, racing bikes, off road, moto cross, rallying, drifting, those disciplines that are registered with ATCUAE.

“We are trying to keep it all in-house and we are trying to give people a platform.

“Let’s say, if you want to go racing, how do you go about it, what do you do, who can you speak to, what teams are available, what platform is available for you to take the next step and obviously, how much is the cost.

“Anybody with that need for speed that wants to take it off the road on to the track, we are trying to find that person and bring him to the racetrack.”

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