Behind every champion there's a secret weapon!

Behind every champion there's a secret weapon; supportive parents!

Russell Jones, a former Middle East racing champion and UAE resident taught his son Ed to drive at the age of 5. By the age of 22, Ed Jones would amaze the motorsport world by finishing on the podium of the USA's biggest and fastest motor race – the Indianapolis 500. This gave Dubai born Ed Jones instant worldwide acclaim and qualified him as the UAE's most successful racing driver. 

The unwavering commitment of Ed's parents Russell and Elaine is fully responsible for his success.

Ed Jones testing with Formula Gulf at the Dubai Autodrome

Ed Jones testing with Formula Gulf at the Dubai Autodrome

"Ed of course learnt the ropes during many seasons of kart racing. When he was 15 he went through the Formula Gulf Driver Development Program at Yas Marina Circuit and Dubai Autodrome" said Russell Jones. Ed was the first driver to sign up for the new Formula Gulf Academy program in 2010 but was soon off to the UK to compete in the 2011 InterSteps Championship where he finished 4th overall in his first car racing season.

"Having observed the high standard of education and driver coaching Formula Gulf Academy offer to young drivers, I would certainly recommend this school to aspiring young drivers" added Russell.

In 2013, Jones would become the youngest European F3 Open Champion in history, with six wins, 10 podium finishes and four pole positions. Acutely aware of the colossal cost of staying on the F1 ladder, Russell and Ed decided to move across the Atlantic to compete in Indy Lights, a feeder series to the IndyCarSeries. By winning the Indy Lights title and the US $1 million Mazda scholarship with two wins, eight podium finishes and eight pole positions, Ed was able to get a rookie IndyCar drive with Dale Coyne Racing where he would go on to win more than half a million dollars with his extraordinary 3rd place finish in the Indy 500.

Said a delighted Russell Jones, "Ed definitely benefited from his first car days with Formula Gulf".

Entries open for season seven of Formula Gulf Academy on 1st July.

Silverstone F3 Test

It was your normal cold, windy day at Silverstone for kicking of the 2017 Formula Gulf Academy UK program for current Vice Champion Omar Gazzaz. Keen to put to practice what he learnt from his recent Campos test Omar was chomping at the bit to get out there.

Unfortunately due some unforeseen technical problem with the car Omar had to sit out most of the morning session. However a very large smile was firmly placed on his face when he finally got some clear running in the afternoon.

Omar knows the Silverstone GP circuit as he competed there last year, but exploring the aero and braking limits of an F3 car is an immense challenge. See below how he fared on a fast part of the circuit:

Where are they now?

Since Martin and Barry Hope turned their hobby into a businessin 2004, GulfSport Racing has worked with and in many cases trained more than 100 racing drivers from 22 countries at circuits in the UAE, Bahrain, Malaysia and the UK. Many of these were what are called 'gentlemen drivers' who race sports, saloon and GT cars as a hobby.

But some were ambitious young drivers attempting to make their way on the difficult path towards becoming a professional racing driver. Over the years of course some have retired, some have continued to simply enjoy racing at a club level, but a few lucky ones have made progress with their ambition.

After focusing on the development of a new market and race series for the UK's Radical Sportscars in the Arabian Gulf, GulfSport turned its attention to helping young racing drivers:

Ed Jones - INDY CAR

Ed Jones - INDY CAR

  • The very first young driver to test GulfSport's Formula Gulf single seater with its 185bhp Suzuki engine was Dubai's Ed Jones back in 2010. Jones would go on to race F.Renault, European F3 Open, FIA F3, and then won the 2016 IndyLights development series which provided a million dollar budget to enter the IndyCar Series where he is now making great progress. Ed is Dubai's most successful racing driver.

  • Formula Gulf Academy, now a recognised international racing school and driver development programme, saw Lebanese driver Joe Ghanem win the first season (2011/12) and graduated to the UAE GT Championship where he won his class in a GulfSport run Ginetta and then into UK Formula Renault and the Maserati Trofeo Middle East series.
Rahul Mayer - GP3

Rahul Mayer - GP3

  • Rahul Raj Mayer, who took his first steps in single seater racing with GulfSport in the 2012/13 season, subsequently moved on to the UK's BRDC F4 series and then Formula Renault NEZ. Most recently testing with Campos in GP3.
  • Fellow Malaysian driver Weiron Tan, who raced alongside Rahul that year, and won his first ever car race with Formula Gulf has pursued his career with some considerable success in UK and German F3, the ProMazda series in the USA and is now signed up to drive the Bentley Continental GT3 in the 2017 China GT Championship!

"The Formula Gulf Academy provided me with a strong platform in single seaters moving up from karts. Working together with Andy Pardoe, Barry and Martin Hope, I gained a lot of experience on top of bagging 4 wins out of 6 races entered and drove on amazing circuits like the Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi and Dubai Autodrome." Weiron Tan

Weiron Tan - F3

Weiron Tan - F3

Faisal Al Zubair - Porshe SuperCup

Faisal Al Zubair - Porshe SuperCup

  • In 2013/14 young Tom Bale took the Formula Gulf title at his first attempt and then pursued a drive in BRDC F4 but has since decided to move back to international karting where is still winning races and championships.
  • Another potential superstar who did two seasons with GulfSport was young lady driver Natasha Seatter who won 7 of 14 races in 2012/13 and went to race in the GT Asia Cup and the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia at the F1 event in Shanghai 2013.
  • Omani racer Al Faisal Al Zubair, who also did his first season of car racing with GulfSport has recently celebrated his first pole position and race victory in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Middle East after a couple of seasons doing F4 and F3 in the UK. Al Faisal, who is about to compete in the prestigious 2017 Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup is also a Red Bull Athlete.
  • Azerbaijan's top single seater driver who started his career in the Formula Gulf Academy will shortly start his second season in the very competitive EuroFormula Open (F3).
Alex Karkosik - Euro Formula Open (F3)

Alex Karkosik - Euro Formula Open (F3)

  • Current Formula Gulf Academy Champion, Alex Karkosik has moved up to F3 with RP Motorsport with a goal of winning the rookie cup in the 2017 EuroFormula Open.
  • Omar Gazzaz of Saudi, who has completed two seasons of Formula Gulf and earned the place of Vice Champion this season, will compete in the UK this summer with GulfSport Racing in the UK F3Cup.

Some young drivers have found that the foundation skills acquired during the Formula Gulf development programme have been relevant to off-road competition:

Tejas Hirani - RX Lites

Tejas Hirani - RX Lites

  • Mohammed Al Mutawaa, who would be the first of three GulfSport drivers to become official Red Bull Athletes would go on to race for Citroen in WRC.  
  • 2014/15 Formula Gulf Champion and now Red Bull athlete, Tejas Hirani, after a promising 2016 season of RX Lites will now contest the 2017 RX2 International Series, a feeder series to the FIA World Rallycross Championship.

It would appear that the UAE's Formula Gulf Academy has quietly become the world's leading race school for ambitious young drivers. Applications are now being accepted for Season 7 later in October this year.

See a full list of Formula Gulf Academy Graduates HERE

Omar Gazzaz Tests with Campos

Omar Gazzaz of Saudi Arabia, spent 3 days with Campos Racing last weekend as part of his prize for becoming the 2017 Vice Champion.

Spending Friday with the team doing a seat fitting and using the Campos Academy GP2 Simulator, Omar spent the Saturday with a trainer to make sure he was prepared physically and mentally for the test on Monday.

Omar took a few laps to start to make sense of the massive downforce and huge brake pressures that can be applied. Not something to be conquered in a morning, but an important start non the less.

Omar added "The brake pressure required was out of this world, a massive step up from the Formula Gulf car, but it proved to be great preparation. I cant thank GulfSport Racing and Formula Gulf Academy enough for this opportunity".

Omar goes on to test at Silverstone on the 9th of June this time with GulfSport Racing in a Dallara F309 Formula 3 car.