Address: Dubai Autodrome, PO Box 24649. Dubai, UAE
PH: +971 4 2046331
Circuit type: Permanent road course
The second desert-based track to emerge in the early 2000s, Dubai Autodrome has become a hub for motorsport in the region and the home of a now traditional season-opening 24 hour race for GT and touring cars.
Plans for the autodrome were first announced in 2002. HOK Sport who were tasked with developing the masterplan for the £27 million circuit and business park, and brought in Clive Bowen - at the time an employee of BTCC team West Surrey Racing who would go on to found the Apex Circuit Design concern – to assist with the track design.
A parcel of land covering 7.5 sq kilometres (70 million sq feet) in the greater Dubailand area was donated by Dubai's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. Construction began in 2002 and was completed in October 2004 in time for its inaugural event, the penultimate round of the FIA GT Series.
The track boasts the latest thinking in security; it was the first FIA-sanctioned circuit to incorporate wide asphalt run-off areas, while a sophisticated digital surveillance system was installed around the whole facility. This provides race control with complete coverage of all areas of the track, meaning that every incident along the track during a race or event can be viewed immediately by the clerk of the course.
The circuit has six different configurations – four for racing and two additional non-racing sections. The design allows three of the configurations to operate simultaneously, safely and independently from each other. Despite it's desert location, there is quite a degree of elevation change and a number of fast sweeping corners matched against tight, technical sections. Driver feedback is generally positive.
Highlights of the racing calendar in the early years were visits from the FIA GT and GT3 series, plus a one-off visit of the ETCC in 2004. GP2 Asia also hosted races here in its first two seasons. Ironically, given the desert climate, the second day of racing for the GT3 and GP2 Asia series had to be cancelled when torrential rain storms flooded the northern portion of the track and left the pitlane submerged. At some points the water level was over 1 meter deep!
In recent years Dubai Autodrome has deliberately positioned itself as the home of UAE national motorsport. The goal is to develop and promote UAE motor racing at national level. Among the series racing extensively at the circuit are the NGK Racing Series, including the Clio Cup, and the UAE Sportbikes Championship.
The Dunlop 24 Hour of Dubai endurance race is now the mainstay of the UAE's sporting calendar and is the first major road racing event on the global calendar of any given year. Organised by the experienced Creventic company, the race forms part of a mini-series of 24 hour races and has seen an increasingly competitive field of GT and touring cars compete for victory.
While much of the circuit surroundings were fairly barren in the early days, recent urban development on the surrounding Motorcity complex means that the circuit feels much more integrated with the city from which it takes its name.
Dubai Autodrome is located in Motorcity, where Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road (formerly known as Emirates Road) meets Umm Suquiem Road at the Arabian Ranches roundabout, around 20 minutes from Dubai city centre. Follow the signs for Motorcity from all directions. Dubai's international airport is a 30 minute drive away.