Round 1 & 2 Preview

GulfSport Racing’s acclaimed young driver development championship continues with a busy two day program on the technical 3.56kms National Circuit this weekend.

Formula Gulf Academy has attracted more than 50 professional young drivers from around the world over the previous six seasons. This week will see four ambitious youngsters, all of whom will be flying with Emirates airline to Dubai, drive their identical Ralph Firman built 186bhp 12,400 rpm slicks and wings racing cars under the expert tutelage of professional driver coach Andy Pardoe, performance engineer Martin Hope and fitness coach Frederic Jacobs.

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Thailand’s Kane Shepherd showed great skill and speed when testing at Yas Circuit recently and is likely to set the pace on the Dubai circuit on Friday. Kane is only 16 years of age but with many kart racing championships behind him and a few SEA F4 races under his belt, he is expected to do what several previous Academy drivers have been able to do, and that is to move straight into an F3 car next season.

15 year old Filip Kaminiarz, one of Poland’s most promising young drivers competed in the KIA LOTOS RACE series before enrolling in the 2017 Formula Gulf Academy program. He also had a valuable weekend on the Yas Circuit getting to grips with a very different car than he was used to - a lightweight single seater with aerodynamics and a six speed sequential gearbox - but on day two made huge progress and put in some very respectable lap times. 

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Bahrain’s Talal Beshara, who finished in 2nd place in the FIA’s GCC Young Driver Academy in May will be joining the program this weekend to help develop his car racing skills and will be driving the Formula Gulf car for the first time. Talal has an impressive kart racing record and with support from Bahrain would make a great Ambassador for the Kingdom as he progresses with an international racing career. Talal is just 16 years of age.

Student and Formula Ford specialist James Scott-Murphy will be flying from Lincoln, England to gain experience of a fast single seater, but this time with aero. James, now 18 years of age was awarded the ‘Best Newcomer Award’ by the BRSCC for his performances in the 2016 Avon Tyres Formula Ford 1600 series last year.

Local young hopeful, 15 year old Tara Eichenberger, who showed great promise at the Yas Marina pre-season testing will not be competing at this event.

With practise on the Thursday afternoon and quali and two races on Friday, you are most welcome to come say hi to the drivers and team - entrance is free of charge.

Yas Pre Season Test

UAE based professional driver development series, Formula Gulf Academy kicked off season seven with two days of training and testing on Abu Dhabi’s fabulous Yas Marina Circuit.

Coached and mentored by multiple champion Tommy Erdos, five young international racers drove identical 186bhp slicks and wings Formula race cars over 50 laps of the 10 turn, 3.15 km North Circuit. Having learnt half the GP circuit they moved onto the full 21 turn, 5.55kms GP circuit on day two.

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Benchmark lap times were set by Saudi Arabia’s Omar Gazzaz, the current FGA Vice Champion. He put in a lap of 2:13.748 on the GP circuit, just half a second off the outright lap record.

Multiple karting champion and F4 SEA competitor, 16 year old Kane Shepherd, got to grips with the car quickly. Kane explained, “ Yes, I like the car. It is lighter, has more aero, is quicker and has softer brakes than the F4 Renault / Mygale I’ve been racing”. 

Leading Emirati single seater racer, 18 year old Saeed Al Ali was quick, having competed successfully in season six of the Academy.

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15 year old Tara Eichenberger, fresh from several seasons of kart racing in the UAE and Europe made her debut in Formula Gulf Academy. With no previous car racing experience, she had a considerable task of learning to drive something with suspension, aerodynamics, significant weight transfer and a gearbox! However, her intelligent approach and steady progress over the two days was rewarded with some very respectable lap times.

Another 15 year old rookie, Filip Kaminiarz, following in the footsteps of his Polish compatriot and Formula Gulf Champion Alex Karkosik, came with limited racing experience from the KIA Lotos championship. But despite no prior single seater experience, once he mastered the art of aero braking and the manual sequential gearbox, started putting in some decent lap times.

Organiser, GulfSport Racing’s Martin Hope said “Well, here we are again with talented young drivers coming from overseas to train on the great circuits we have here in the UAE. We are also expecting two 18 year old drivers from Saudi Arabia, both of whom recently completed their basic training with us, to join us at the first points scoring event at the Dubai Autodrome on 17th November”.

Talented young racing drivers heading to the UAE

A 15 year old karter from Switzerland, a 16 year multiple karting champion from Thailand, a 15 year old from Poland racing in the KIA Lotos series and two lads who competed in Saudi Formula BMW will be travelling to the fabulous Yas Marina Circuit next week. They will be taking part in the first of six events in Formula Gulf Academy, the world’s most cost effective driver development program and single seater championship. 

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They will work closely with head driver coach Tommy Erdos who knows exactly what it takes to win races and championships having won both British Formula Renault 2.0 and GT titles and 24H Le Mans twice in an LMP2.  Tommy also provides advanced driver coaching for the 'Pure McLaren' official track driving programme.

Driving identical 185bhp slicks and wings formula racing cars that can reach 240kph and reach 100kph in less than 4 seconds, they will also be supported with fitness and media training during the 6 month program

Martin Hope of GulfSport Racing said ‘We are delighted to again attract such promising talent to the UAE. The goal of all of these drivers is to acquire the skills and experience necessary to justify their move to a higher level championship, which is typically FIA F4 or EuroFormula Open (F3), hoping to follow in the footsteps of many of our previous graduates, some of whom became professional racing drivers.'

Season gets underway with Training.

The Formula Gulf Academy season kicked off a little early this year with the first of our Training and Testing sessions.

Coming in from KSA was Yousef Al Amoudi and Mahfouz Tombokany, both have previously compete in the KSA F.BMW championship and Saudi GT Championship. Now looking to progress their racing they traveled to the UAE to train with Formula Gulf Academy.

Also joining was young Swiss karter Tara Eichenberger. This was Tara’s first drive in a formula car, so it was extremely important that she took the correct steps to get of the right start, the training proved fantastic for her, and on day two she started to put some good laps together.

The fourth driver (sessions limited to 4 drivers) was Paul Jackson from the UK. Paul is an experienced trackday driver and was looking to experience driving the circuit he knows so well in the purest form, that of course is behind the wheel of a Formula Gulf Academy car. 

A subsequent Training and Testing day will take place on the 19th of October a week before the official pre season test at Yas Marina Circuit.