1) The weather…
‘Winter’ in Dubai is an entirely different proposition. For starters, there’s sun, and 10 hours of it to-boot, with temperatures at this year’s Hankook 24H DUBAI reaching highs of 25°C and lows of only 15°C throughout the entire weekend. Scramble through the history books, and you’ll even find that temperatures have hit a record 32°C in Dubai in January.
Plus, how often do you get to holiday with the family at the beach in January, and squeeze some racing in at the same time?
2) …and the night
Did you know that the Hankook 24H DUBAI has the longest night stint of any race on the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook calendar? In 2017 for instance, the sun set at 5.48pm (local time) and did not fully emerge again until 7.07am, meaning competitor raced for almost 13 hours ‘at night’. And even that is likely to go up in 2019.
Helpful to know if you’re a driver that enjoys racing at night, or feels they could do with a little more practice.
3) It poses a unique challenge for drivers…
Across its 13-year lifespan, the Hankook 24H DUBAI has legitimately established itself as one of the biggest endurance races on the planet, both figuratively and literally. Indeed, since 2006, grid sizes have risen from a ‘humble’ 67 to just under 100, encompassing up to 44 nationalities, 65 teams, more than 380 drivers and 17 manufacturers racing for 24 solid hours across 11 different categories in 2018.
Bearing that in mind, it’s no real wonder that the variety of racing machines on-track at the same time means the depth of competition at the Dubai Autodrome remains staggeringly high, year in year out.
4) …and a superb promotional opportunity for teams
As the first high profile endurance event of every New Year, the Hankook 24H DUBAI is a prominent hub for both local and global multi-media news organisations, not forgetting the annual, in-depth reportage from radiolemans.com either. As an opportunity for teams to promote their performance credentials to fans and potential sponsors alike, the 10-11-12 January weekend offers an awesome platform to do so.
5) Fancy riding a camel?
This is almost certainly the most unique tradition of arguably any endurance race worldwide. Bedouin-style camel safaris across the dunes remain one of the most representative and popular tourist attractions in the United Arab Emirates, and in recent years, the overall winners at CREVENTIC’s blue ribbon event have been invited to take a dromedary camel ride through the paddock as part of their celebratory ‘walk’ to the podium.
Significantly, the tradition developed in 2018 to include not just the outright winners of the Hankook 24H DUBAI, but also those victorious in the TCE division too.
6) You just don’t know which motoring icons will turn up to race
Formula 1 design guru Adrian Newey. Mercedes-AMG F1 team principal Toto Wolff. Former 24 Hours of Le Mans winners Jan Lammers and Brendon Hartley. Former Formula 1 drivers Robert Kubica, Jean-Eric Vergne, Mika Salo, Jan Magnussen, Jean-Eric Vergne, Tomáš Enge, Karl Wendlinger, and Karun Chandhok.
These are some of the legendary names that have competed at – and occasionally won – the Hankook 24H DUBAI since 2006. Just goes to show, you never know who’s going to turn up, and whom teams and drivers might end up competing against.
7) There’s a fantastic paddock atmosphere
Since its first official event in 2010, CREVENTIC has prided itself on running professional and safe endurance motor racing events, albeit with a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere. Rarely is this better exemplified than the paddock at the Hankook 24H DUBAI. An annual ‘welcome party’ barbeque greets competitors before free practice and qualifying gets underway, and the 8pm fireworks display on Friday night has become a popular annual tradition of CREVENTIC’s biggest race of the year. Throw in an open garage policy for fans, and you have an atmosphere seen only once a year.
8) The Dubai Autodrome is challenging and technical, but also fast…
Jump behind the wheel of a GT car at the Dubai Autodrome, and you’ll quickly reach upwards of 250kph down the main start-finish straight, thereafter pulling up to – and even over – 1G under braking for the first mid-speed right hander.
Open the steering back up and jump on the throttle as you enter turn 2, the track beginning its slow climb through the double-apex turn 4 – blip the throttle to keep the front wheels from washing wide – before dropping back down into the quick left-right that is turn 5. Scrubbing speed for the (seemingly) endless right-handed turn 6 is tricky, as is tucking the nose into the tight apex at its pinnacle while pulling almost 1.5 lateral G. Fire up one gear and hold the throttle through the looping left handed turn 9, you’re soon back on the power for the 1km back straight, where speeds will again brush 250kph before the anchors are thrown out for the tight, right-handed turn 10.
Up a gear and feathering the throttle through turn 11, you’re back on the brakes for another tight right-hander at turn 12, another 1G of longitudinal load straining at the muscles in your neck. Up three gears – possibly four – for the full speed, full commitment turn 13, the nose of the GT soon disappears into the left-handed ‘bowl’ at turn 14, as does your vision when the late afternoon sun beams start poking their way past the circuit’s observation tower. The front wheels threaten to run wide on the off-camber climb back up the hill into turn 15 before one final burst of acceleration takes you past pit entry and into the final right-hander. After a long, agonising wait as you begin to feed the throttle back in and open the steering away from the apex, you start to climb the perilous climb into top gear down the brutally main start-finish straight once again.
Consider that for 24 straight hours. With traffic.
9) …and modern. Don’t forget modern!
As an FIA-sanctioned facility built in 2004, the Dubai Autodrome boasts wide asphalt run-off areas and a sophisticated digital surveillance system offering both race control and the clerk of the course full coverage of the circuit in the event of an on-track incident. Plus, there’s first-of-its-kind welcome centre for race-day patrons. That’s not a bad way to spend $37 million, is it?
10) Downtime in Downtown Dubai
The Dubai Fountain for instance is the largest choreographed showcase of its kind in the world, and ‘performs’ every half-hour after 6pm to almost half a dozen separate light shows and musical scores (including Michael Jackson’s Thriller). If you’ve a head for heights, you might want to check out the world’s tallest building from its 160th floor observation centre, or Skydive Dubai in the Marina.
Seriously, book a few extra days. You won’t be disappointed.