Richard Cregan, chief executive officer of Yas Marina Circuit, along with Kawthar Bin Sulayem, YMC regional media manager, address the media in Abu Dhabi yesterday. Image Credit: Ravindranath, Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Five major motorsport events have been added to the Formula One 2010 calendar in an effort to attract more local and international race fans to the Yas Marina Circuit (YMC).

The move follows in the wake of last year's successful Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Headlining the new events will be the GP2 Asia Series which will take place on February 5-6.

Other exciting races to be staged are the V8 Supercars Australia and the new FIA GT1 International Series, all of which will all take place in the first half of the year.

The season will culminate in the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 12-14.

"The GP2 series will help develop awareness for open wheel racing in the UAE," said Richard Cregan, YMC chief executive.

"Famous Formula One drivers have progressed from the GP2 to Formula One, including names like Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), and Kamui Kobayashi (BMW Sauber) among many," he said.

The GP2 Asia Series was established in 2008, and is made up of 26 identical single-seat racecars. By 2010, after a history of just five years, nearly a half of the Formula One grid is expected to be made up of GP2 graduates.

The are a number of differences between the GP2 Asia Series and a Formula One car, the YMC management explained during a press conference, yesterday.

These include the fact that teams that compete in GP2 Asia Series do not build their own race cars; the total car is supplied to each team by the series organisers; teams operate at a cost of about one per cent of an average Formula One team budget; and laptimes are also on average three to six seconds slower than a Formula One back-of-the-grid-car.

Cregan also revealed that America's top fuel dragsters will also take part in the International Drag Racing Festival for the first time in the Middle East.

The event will be invitation-only for the top drag race teams in the UAE, and racers will be competing for a prize money close to Dh375,000.

"We intend on developing our own drag racing series as well as introduce our own circuit drag race school.

Entertainment

"Yas Marina Circuit has been created to provide world-class entertainment to local people and international visitors and that's exactly what these events will deliver," he added.

The V8 Supercars Australia is growing in stature worldwide as the premier touring car racing series.

"This action packed series will include everyday cars one sees in the streets of Abu Dhabi that will thrill the public as the Fords and the Holdens bump and grind around the circuit in their first-ever night race," said Cregan.