The Gulf 12 Hours will remain at Yas Marina Circuit for at least the next two years, following a contract extension between event promoters Driving Force Events Ltd. and track management.
The fourth running of the Middle Eastern enduro is set for Dec. 12, 2014. Event organizers will be aiming to expand on the grid and popularity of the event, which, for the first time this year, attracted high-profile manufacturer involvement from Bentley.
“This is Yas Marina Circuit; It’s a very glamorous venue. We want to develop this into one of the most glamorous endurance events in the world,” said Andrea Ficarelli, director of Driving Force Events Ltd. “We can only do this if we work in association with brands like the ones we have here now.”
Twenty one cars took the race start last week, the same number from the December 2012 event, although reduced due to mechanical issues for a handful of entries.
Yet, the event saw a sharp increase in sales, particularly with hospitality suites, as well as the arrival of the Maserati Trofeo World Series, which served as a support series for the first time.
Ficarelli said the unique two six-hour race format will continue next year, as it has received positive feedback from teams, as well as offering the potential for fans to become more engaged.
“I think it’s a winning format,” Ficarelli said. “I believe that this was an important element for Bentley, even if it was not officially admitted. I believe it’s an extremely good format to try and [attract fans]. We need to start offering something interesting, short, not too long, hoping to have people stay longer.”
With the next two editions being locked down, Ficarelli said the main focus will be on continuing to grow the Gulf 12 Hours event, with a concerted effort to attract additional teams and manufacturer interest from all corners of the globe.
The date of the race allows GT teams competing in Macau, for instance, to transport their cars by sea freight to UAE. Teams could elect to remain in the country for the 24 Hours of Dubai the following month.
While the promoter had previously been evaluating a potential second race, also likely in the Middle East, to compliment the Abu Dhabi enduro, Ficarelli said their primary focus is on the Gulf 12 Hours at the moment.
“We are a relatively small organization and already this year, by moving it from the normal [standalone] format we had to a supporting event and more manufacturer involvement, like Bentley, and more hospitality, it has made our job more [challenging],” he said.
“We already know that we have to upgrade the structure we’re doing now and to take it one step further. I think until we are 100 percent structured to have maximum efficiency for the [Gulf] 12 Hours, it doesn’t make sense to try and put something else on the plate. We want to deliver quality instead of quantity.”