Bahrain: BIC announces plans for inaugural FIA WEC 6hrs of Bahrain
BIC, Sakhir – Bahrain International Circuit (BIC), “The Home of Motorsport in the Middle East”, announced on Monday (July 30) its plans for the upcoming Six Hours of Bahrain endurance race, scheduled to take place September 28 and 29 at the world-renowned desert track.
The Six Hours of Bahrain is part of the all-new FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). It is the first time such an event will be held in the region, making it a spectacular addition to the Kingdom’s motor racing calendar.
Following BIC’s official announcement recently that it will be staging the Six Hours of Bahrain, details of the two-day spectacle were revealed at a Press conference on Monday held at the circuit premises in Sakhir. In attendance were BIC Chief Executive Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa, FIA WEC Chief Executive Officer Gerard Neveu and popular Audi Sport Team Joest driver Allan McNish.
The Six Hours of Bahrain will be the sixth of eight rounds in the 2012 championship. The season calendar also includes races in the US, Belgium, France, the UK, Brazil, Japan and China.
Bahrain is the only Arab country to feature in this year’s WEC campaign, despite several other regional circuits interested in hosting.
BIC Chief Executive Shaikh Salman commented: “The Six Hours of Bahrain will mark another first for the Kingdom and for BIC. We are known around the world to be regional pioneers in the sport. We were the first international circuit of the highest standards to be built in the Middle East, and we were the first to bring major global championships to the Middle East. Now, we are proud to once again be the first in bringing such a prestigious series here. This category of motorsport has a very rich history; its very essence has been derived from the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France, which is also a part of the WEC. We can look forward to the Six Hours of Bahrain with great excitement, and we hope to enjoy another amazing event.”
FIA WEC CEO Neveu commented: “Bahrain International Circuit is one of the most impressive facilities in the world and the perfect place to showcase the new FIA World Endurance Championship in the Middle East.
“The on-track entertainment will be provided by the teams and drivers competing for the first Endurance World Championship title and the race here in Bahrain will feature cars from manufacturers such as Audi, Toyota, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Corvette, Porsche, Lotus, Nissan, Honda, Morgan and Oreca.
“The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the greatest race in the world and the FIA WEC is about bringing the spirit of Le Mans to the tracks we visit and spectators will be able to have access to the paddock and get close to the cars and drivers, as well as have some great off-track entertainment.
“We hope that the people of Bahrain come and enjoy the FIA WEC and help make the Six Hours of Bahrain a success. I would like to thank Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa and the staff at BIC for all their hard work and for inviting the FIA WEC to race in Bahrain in September.”
The Six Hours of Bahrain will be only the third international endurance event ever to take place at BIC. It follows the 24 Hours Race of Bahrain in 2006, and a six-hour international race for superbikes in 2009. Both were one-off, stand-alone events, but neither was as big and as significant as the upcoming Six Hours of Bahrain.
The Six Hours of Bahrain will feature a massive grid of no less than 32 of the world’s fastest and most prestigious sports cars. They will be run by top international teams from around the world.
Each team consists of more than one driver who will be taking turns behind the wheel during the course of the race. Some of the competitors entered in the WEC’s inaugural season include several familiar faces, such as ex-Formula One talents like McNish, Nick Heidfeld, Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima, to name a few.
There will be four different car categories: the Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1), LMP2, LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am. Le Mans Prototype cars are not your typical road cars. They are a special breed created specifically for this category of racing.
Le Mans Prototype cars are the fastest closed-wheel racing cars in circuit racing today and can reach maximum speeds even higher than Formula One cars. LMGTE cars are grand tourer race cars.
“The FIA WEC is about great racing but also about providing a platform for manufacturers to test and develop new technology,” Neveu added. “This will be seen here in Bahrain in the form of the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro and the Toyota TS030 Hybrid cars, and from 2014 the new regulations will encourage more development in renewable energies, such as the Green GT Fuel Cell car that will be seen at Silverstone.”
Racing will take place on BIC’s 5.412-kilometre Grand Prix track. Action will get underway behind closed doors on September 27 with practices.
The first open day to the public will be on September 28, which is when qualifying for the next day’s race will be held. The Six Hours of Bahrain is then scheduled to flag off on September 29 in the late afternoon at 4pm. It will end at 10pm at night.
Race fans to enjoy Open Paddock
Throughout the Six Hours of Bahrain weekend, BIC will be keeping its paddock area open, allowing fans to freely walk around the vicinity and enjoy everything the WEC has to offer.
Spectators will be able to get up close to the team buildings and see the squads hard at work in their respective garages. They may also possibly meet some of the WEC’s top drivers who will be along the paddock throughout the day.
Further, an autograph session along the pit lane has been scheduled, giving fans an even more first-hand experience behind the scenes of the championship.
BIC 2,000CC CHALLENGE TO BEGIN NEW SEASON
The Six Hours of Bahrain will be supported on the track all weekend by the BIC 2,000cc Challenge, which is one of the Kingdom’s leading national championships.
Organised by the Circuit Racing Club of Bahrain, the Challenge’s opening round of the 2012/2013 season will be taking place with many of the country’s most renowned gentleman drivers competing.
Reigning champion Stephen Kellogg from the US is expected to defend his crown, but he will face some stiff competition from the likes of former titlist Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Tim Birkin, Abdulrahman Ghuloom, Alex Longden, Hussain Karimi and Kuzbar brothers Ahmed and Hamed, to name a few.
Just as it is in every major event at BIC, race goers will be able to enjoy plenty of off-the-track entertainment.
Located right next to the paddock, the entertainment area will include a main stage where a series of colourful shows will be on hand.
There will also be several roaming performers who will be interacting with members of the public such as musicians, stilt walkers and clowns.
For young children, they will be able to enjoy a wide variety of rides, while arts-and-crafts stations will bring about their hidden talents and creativity. An array of challenging carnival games will also keep everyone entertained throughout the day, while there will also be non-stop live music as well as food and beverage stalls for all to enjoy.
Official release from Bahrain International Circuit