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Cregan targets ‘best-ever’ F1 race next weekend

Yas Marina CEO confident of packed stands in fourth running of Etihad Airways Grand Prix

Image Credit: Gulf News Archives
Richard Cregan
Gulf News

Dubai: There are fewer than 3,000 tickets remaining for the 2012 Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Yas Marina Circuit, Richard Cregan, has one final ambition — ensuring they are all sold out before next weekend’s big event.

“This is our fourth year and by far it is going to be the best ever. So we would love to see the stands packed to ensure everyone is part of the excitement,” Cregan told Gulf News a week before next week’s 2012 Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from November 2-4.

With just four races more to go in the Formula One season, including Sunday’s Indian Grand Prix on the outskirts of New Delhi, a thrilling climax is set to ensue.

And Cregan believes excitement is unparalleled among F1 fans given that Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso are going head to head at the top of the drivers’ championship, while Kimi Raikonnen remains in close pursuit.

“When it comes to the F1 race we cannot have it better with Vettel and Alonso going for the drivers’ title and Kimi Raikonnen also in with an outside chance,” Cregan said. “We have one of the best circuits in the world and, as long as we have all the boxes ticked, we are going to maintain the standard that we have set for ourselves,” Cregan said.

Tickets for the race in Abu Dhabi have been available through a wide range of outlets, including selected Etihad Airways shops, Virgin Megastores across the UAE and the Gulf.

“The key to our success is listening to our customers and what suggestions they have so that we can improve. And then there is the combination of entertainment with three top-quality concerts during the three days,” Cregan added.

“But by far one of the most important things is the level of support we have from Etihad Airways and all our sponsors from the time we started. While working with all our partners has been such a lovely experience, we have extended ticket and entertainment options this year to the spectators and the response has been overwhelming. We are looking at hosting around 35 per cent of the spectators from overseas, with a promise of making the entire experience as enjoyable as possible.”

While the Formula One race will be the highlight of the weekend, the popular Australian V8 Supercar Series will be the official F1 support race. “The V8s will be a huge draw for spectators,” said the Abu Dhabi F1 chief.

There will be entertainment on and off the track, Cregan pointed out, with organisers lining up free concerts along the Corniche, while ticket holders will have three top-level concerts featuring Kylie Minogue, Eminem and Nickelback, to further fuel the long holiday break.

“There will be something for everyone over the weekend and it is our focus to ensure that our guests get the best,” Cregan said.

One of the biggest additions this year is the Yas Racing Club (YRC), which has the aim of developing grassroots motorsport racing across the UAE. The YRC — in collaboration with the Automobile and Touring Club UAE (ATCUAE) — can now sanction its own races.

Cregan added: “It is said that the best time to start off something new is when times are tough. We realised that motorsport here needed input and encouragement and that is why we started with the club. It has been going great so far and I am sure we will be on target in achieving the goals we have set.”