Officials from Muscat Speedway and Al Ain Raceway of UAE came together to formally announce details of the Gulf Karting Endurance Championship (GKEC), a four-round karting endurance series set to revolutionise the sport in the region.
The announcement was made at a press conference held at the Oman Automobile Association (OAA) headquarters in Muscat on Saturday. In attendance were Brigadier Jamal Bin Said Al Tai, Vice Chairman of OAA, Guy Sheffield, Club Director of Al Ain Raceway and Sulaiman Al Rawahi, Managing Director of OAA.
The first of its kind in the region, the GKEC is the result of a collaboration between Muscat Speedway and Al Ain Raceway and will comprise of 4 rounds with two 12-hour races and two 24-hour races to be held across the two venues.
The series will be the first to showcase the new RD1 Elite premier leisure kart which has been designed and produced specially to cope with the demands of the region. The bespoke product includes a water-cooled, chainless-drive 24hp Rotax hybrid engine with a custom-made chassis manufactured by Birel ART. It marks the results of more than 2 years of intensive research and development.
The GKEC is an important regional addition to the motorsport calendar with participation expected from teams throughout the GCC.
Attending the official press conference were representatives from the Board of Directors of Oman Automobile Association, local and international media, teams and competitors from around the GCC as well as local motorsport enthusiasts.
The GKEC has been hailed as a catalyst for enhanced GCC coordination in the promotion and development of motorsport in the region at grassroots level. The platform will allow participants, including youth, access to a more elite championship with minimal personal investment.
Brigadier Jamal Bin Said Al Tai, Vice Chairman of OAA said: “We are very happy to launch this Championship officially and very proud of the cooperation between Al Ain Raceway and Muscat Speedway. This cooperation is not new. We have successfully organised different motorsport events together over the past years.
“One standout example is the annual hosting of the UAE Rotax MAX Challenge at Muscat Speedway which attracts drivers from different parts of the world and raises awareness and the standards of our own local drivers. This new concept will undoubtedly develop and further improve entry-level motorsport in the region and we will continue to work very closely with Al Ain Raceway as a partner to continue with this programme and look to introduce others that look to be beneficial for the GCC.”
Sulaiman Al Rawahi, Managing Director of OAA commented: “We are very glad to be part of this initiative and we are very proud of our collaboration with Al Ain Raceway. The GKEC was a dream when the concept was first discussed and now it has become a reality. We are very positive about this championship and what it means for the region. And we are looking forward in coming seasons to expand this to cover the whole GCC. Looking around the room at teams from all over the Gulf, and seeing first-hand the interest to participate in this series, it is clear that this championship will be very successful. The new RD1 Elite kart that has been developed exclusively for this series is another big step for both race teams and event organisers.”
When asked about the new series, Guy Sheffield, Club Director of Al Ain Raceway said: “We are very proud and happy to enjoy support from Muscat Speedway in order to be able to realise this new championship. This official launch comes after more than two years of extensive research and development with our engine and chassis partners.
“It is fantastic to sit here and present the GKEC and to officially unveil the new RD1 Elite kart for the first time here in Oman. This is already a game-changer and has really raised the bar in terms of a challenge for teams and drivers. The use of a hybrid racing engine, mating parts of the Rotax 125 MAX EVO range, enables huge performance combined with durability and consistency.
“Combined with the bespoke chassis from BirelART, the karts are 5 seconds per lap faster than the standard offering. This is going to provide a unique experience and real challenge for drivers and teams taking part in the Championship.
“The two hosting circuits are among the best in the region in terms of the challenge they provide and the facilities. Our combined organisational and operational experience is also second to none when putting on events of this type and we are really excited about what the future holds for GKEC and GCC motorsport in general.”
Both Muscat Speedway and Al Ain Raceway have proven track records in organising successful motorsport events and have the infrastructure to go with it.
The GKEC will be further evidence of this and will, at the same time, enable driver development while attracting a wider range of participants and other sponsors and motorsport stakeholders.