Mohammed Ben Sulayem believes a proposed GCC-wide Drag Race Championship can be a success, but only with careful planning between the region’s official bodies and the FIA, motor sport’s world governing body.
Sulayem, President of the Automobile & Touring Club for the UAE, has welcomed the idea to take drag racing to a new level in the Gulf through a new series for cars and bikes featuring rounds in each of the GCC countries, and a grand final in Dubai.
“It is a good idea, and it could be successful, but there is a lot of work to be done before it can happen,” said the 14-times former Middle East rally champion.
“A championship like this can only be run if it is planned and organised properly with the input and full approval of the FIA, and the support of each of the clubs which are its official representatives in the region and have the experience and knowhow to make it work.”
He added: “It is vital that FIA standards are applied at every stage in order to ensure the safety of competitors and the public, and to maintaining consistently high standards in the staging of events, to protect the future of motor sport here.”
Sulayem joined representatives of FIA-recognised clubs from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait at a recent meeting in Dubai to discuss the proposed GCC-wide Drag Race Championship. The clubs will now discuss the proposal at local level and meet later in the year with the intention of finalising a championship format and time-table.The ATCUAE is the officially nominated representative in the Emirates of both the FIA, and its motor cycling counterpart, the FIM. On their behalf it supervises all organised motor sport events in the UAE for cars and bikes.
Sulayem’s appointment as ATCUAE President was approved last April by its patron, H.H.Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Sheikh Mohammed also approved the appointment ofKhalfan Hareb, Mohammed Atik Al Qamzi and Saeed Al Tayer as board members.
Sulayem has been highly active in his new ATCUAE role, both on and off the race circuit. He was instrumental in persuading FIA decision makers to create a “free zone” for rally and racing drivers in the Gulf, making it easier for them to compete in official events around the region.
Recently he received official praise from the FIA for establishing the ATCUAE as a model organisation in the Arab world. A visiting FIA official said the ATCUAE had achieved outstanding results in the motor sport arena, and in services for motoring tourists and travellers, under Sulayem.