If you’ve ever driven your car or ridden your bike down an empty road and wished you could put pedal to the metal, Dubai Autodrome’s Track Days/Evenings are for you.
The event allows all drivers and riders to experience what their respective vehicle can do in the safe and exciting confines of Dubai Autodrome’s rack track. That means you can let loose without restrictions or constraints and see what your car or bike can really do in a controlled setting.
Those wanting to test out their bikes can get the rush on Thursday, June 16, while those with cars can hit the pavement on Friday, June 24. Both dates feature club circuits and are for novice and advanced riders only.
“Track Days/Evenings allow drivers or riders to explore the performance of their cars or bikes in a controlled and safe environment,” said Bert Grogor, sponsorship & business development manager for Dubai Autodrome.
“Traditionally the average road user will never explore the true performance of their car or bike, however driving or riding on a fully sanctioned FIA Grade 1 race circuit will undoubtedly push their own limits as well as their vehicle’s limits.
“As you circulate one of our six different circuit configurations you can expect to achieve high speeds, hard braking zones and fast sweeping corners. We feel these experiences are important to help you become a better driver/rider and hopefully bring you a new found respect for driving and driving safety.”
To ensure safety, Dubai Autodrome will have marshals posted, along with safety trucks, ambulances and also paramedic services available.
Though anyone with a drivers’ license can participate in Track Days/Evenings, drivers who have not taken part before must first enroll and then join the novice Track Evening.
Drivers must also wear a helmet at all times on the track and if you don’t own one, you can rent a helmet on the day for Dh50. Any road-worthy car, except for single-seaters, open-wheel cars or SUVs, can be used on the track.
For more information and to book your Track Day, visit www.dubaiautodrome.com.
But, at the same time, he increased his championship points lead.
Starting from pole, Jones trailed winner Stoneman by a mere 0.0024 of a second as they crossed the line, in a tense and thrilling race characterised by several changes for position at the front and followed by a sensational finish which will go down in Brickyard folklore.
By the time the dust had settled, Jones took comfort in the fact that he extended his championship lead from 21 points to 29 points as his main title rivals faltered on the day, while in the end he did exactly what was required for his title ambitions.
Speaking in the aftermath of the weekend, which marked the 100th running of the Indy 500, Jones said: “Looking at the bigger picture, we were consistently up at the front once again, and that will prove very important as we get towards the business end of the season. We’ve left every race meeting recently having increased our championship lead, which has to be the main objective – so in that respect, Indy was very much mission accomplished.”
As for the race itself, Jones reflected: “The race was really exciting, constantly back-and-forth, and very strategic. I spent a lot of time being patient and letting the laps tick down, and I was very careful to make sure I didn’t drop out of the top three, because that would have risked getting dragged into a dogfight further down the order.”
“I lost count of the number of times Dean and I passed each other, and I was more aggressive than usual, which seemed to pay off. When we re-started with one lap to go, I took the lead into Turn One and kept it flat the whole way round, but Dean benefitted from the slipstream to get a run on me through Turn Three and that gave him the extra momentum.
“It was a classic case of so near yet so far – it was such a tiny margin that it really could have gone either way. It was cool to be a part of the closest finish in IMS oval racing history, although massively frustrating to be on the wrong side of just 24 thousandths-of-a-second! The team gave me a great car and I was pleased with my performance – I couldn’t have done any more – but full credit to Dean. He drove a great race.”
Paddock sentiment, after the Freedom 100, was that perhaps Jones could have squeezed Stoneman as they exited the final banked turn side-by-side, but wisely Jones gave him space. A move which was applauded by pundits and rivals as it showed that the multiple UAE champion had the bigger picture of the title race on his mind and hence did the right thing.
Contact with Stoneman and a DNF at that point would have cost valuable points and instead of leaving Indianapolis with a greater advantage over fellow contenders, Jones would have been in the clutches of the chasing pack.
With points up for grabs in 11 more rounds to go, there is still a great deal of work to do for Jones whose first priority has been the 2016 Indy Lights championship title which he now leads with a good margin.
Team chief Trevor Carlin summed up: “Ed and the whole team should be very proud of our performance this weekend. Ed lost out by the smallest of margins, but he was right there at the flag and his consistency has put him in a very strong place in the championship standings.”
And the final word to Jones: “It was the biggest weekend of the year and obviously a very special event, but at the end of the day, it’s still worth the same points as any other race.”
“That said, there was admittedly a moment when I took a step back and soaked up the incredible atmosphere, which put into perspective how far we’ve come and what we’ve achieved – and how much closer we now are to the ultimate goal.”
Next on the Indylights schedule for Jones will be a day of testing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on 7 June, followed by Rounds 9 and 10 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Report by Paul Velasco
A race victory and a fourth place finish at the hallowed Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit two weeks ago saw him top the standings with 160 points, 21 more than his closest challenger after seven of 18 rounds.
Speaking to Sport360, Jones said: “It feels great to have the points lead with almost a race win in hand. We have been working really hard and the results have come along, now the aim is to keep it that way.
“When you have a lead like mine early in the season it is very easy to start to try defend your position rather than continue attacking, you see this a lot in every form of sport. I am very conscious of this as I feel I did this a bit last year which cost me.
“Therefore the aim is to continue to be the attacker, every session, every race we have to go out there right on the edge with the same mentality that got me to this current situation. It’s only right at the end of the season when you should even think about defending your lead and in most cases that still isn’t the right way to go.”
The Indianapolis Grand Prix Circuit was packed with challenges and incidents which Jones tackled with confidence thanks to the experience gained during his rookie season last year.
He said: “It wasn’t quite the perfect weekend because it should have been two wins, but we take a lot of encouragement from it nonetheless and the Carlin boys did a fantastic job as ever. I really can’t thank them all enough,”
A couple of months earlier, the season did not get off to a good start for him, but the pendulum has swung back his way in recent races.
“We did get off to a bad start at St Petersburg in the first round of the season but that was more down to something out of our control which forced me to start near the back,” added Jones.
“But since that race, I have started every single race from the front row on the grid and finished in the top two apart from the last race where an error of mine cost me.
“The key to this has just has been the progress we have made after every session we have driven in. We are always improving from the first lap on track at a race weekend till the last and so far been a step ahead of everyone most of the time.”
Inevitably, talk of stepping up to getting back on the oval next weekend during the Indy 500. Firstly, it’s Indycars is common in a series that is dubbed the ‘Road to Indy’ and Jones is certainly one of the young drivers who will be attracting the attention of team principals.
“Every weekend has been gaining more attention and more talks with Indy Car teams are going on so it’s looking good,” revealed Jones.
“However we are not even half way through the season so there is still time until teams decide exactly what they want to do for next year.”
For now, the seven times UAE champion is focusing all his attention on Indianapolis Speedway.
Jones will be racing for the second time at the venue of the legendary Indianapolis 500.
“I’m really looking forward to the biggest race event in the world and this year, being the 100th running, it is going to be crazy,” he said.
“Secondly I have just fallen in love with the ovals recently. Mentally it’s the most challenging and exciting thing I’ve ever done. You are driving round at an average speed of 200mph, inches from the wall, on the edge trying not to freak out. Whilst that’s happening your engineer is trying to make your car even faster by taking grip away and making the margin for error even smaller.
“A big part of being one of the best drivers on the ovals is blind faith, being able to trust that you’re going to make it, even though there is nothing to validate that the car is going to grip.”