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Cars displayed during the 2-day car show held at 360 Mall.
Kuwait showcases cars for ‘GulfRun’ Highly anticipated race set to kick off on January 23 in Bahrain

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 12: A two-day car show was held at the 360 Mall, spanning Friday and Saturday, Jan 10-11, 2014 to showcase cars that will be participating at this year’s GulfRun9 competition in Bahrain scheduled for January 23-24 at the Bahrain international circuit.  The car show, the seventh to be held since the GulfRun started, is an annual exhibition showcasing the sports cars participating in the highly anticipated car race that is scheduled to take place on Jan 23 and 24 at the Bahrain International Circuit. The car show affords motorsports enthusiasts in Kuwait an opportunity get up close and personal with the cars as well as the drivers that’ll be racing in Bahrain.

“The aim of GulfRun has always been to provide a venue for drivers, with professional and qualified instructors to endorse a responsible and professional approach to Automobile Racing” Ahmed Al-Mudhaf, GulfRun CEO and Founder, said in an interview with Arab Times at the event.  About ninety percent of participants come from Kuwait and the sixty five-car limitation annually for the race has to do with safety precautions and not a participation limitation, says Khaled Al Fraih, GufRun GM. The GulfRun honcho stated that organizing the event in Bahrain is a way to give Kuwaiti motorsport enthusiasts access to race tracks in a safe environment which is what GulfRun actually exists for.

Inner Circuit, Outer Circuit and Karting Competitions will be held on the opening day, Thursday, Jan 23 while the F1, Auto-Cross and Quarter Mile Drag races come on the second day, Friday, Jan 24. When the cars go into the race circuit, their individual times are taken and they’re not required to compete against each other but against their individual times and each has an hour to do the best time on a five-kilometer track which ensures safety — a cardinal objective of the event.  “GulfRun takes people off the streets, show them the race circuit, then they can move on to the next level to become professional racers”, said Al Fraih. The current best time of two minutes and thirteen seconds (2:13) was set by Sami Al Haider last year driving a Corvette GO6 in the unlimited Horsepower category. 

As far as the rules, Al Fraih said there haven’t been any changes made specifically for the ninth edition of the race since the rules have been perfected over the years on how to come out with the best car combination. However, over the years, organizers try to involve more people, more cars as well as more events and when the cars get to the international circuit in Bahrain, they go through competitions such as the inner-circuit, outer-circuit, GP-Circuit, Drag, Karting as well as Auto cross as part of a complete two-day event. Competitors are grouped into their own classes to cross compete between different car types.

Race cars are much more challenging and much more fun to drive where you feel every bit of the road and with the light weight of 500kg it also makes it easier to maneuver compared to the regular car where the driver must try to negotiate the corner with 1, 500kg of weight, says Bader AlSarraf, one of the drivers who sold his regular car and bought a Westfield — a British made open-cockpit race car weighing about 500kg. He has been participating in GulfRun in his Westfield for the past three years. Other vehicle categories participating in the event be placed in their respective class according to capability, horsepower, weight and tire type and made to participate in several events. But in the unlimited category, any car of any make or model can be modified to take part in the race. 

Sami Al Haider’s two minutes and thirteen seconds finish time on the tracks using a street car turned out to be a record breaker even on the Bahrain International Circuit. And it attests to the fact that the competition is really fierce in GulfRun. “It’s not an easy contest, anyone who goes home with a trophy must have worked really hard for it”, said Khaled Al Fraih, GulfRun General Manager. Al Haider along with a couple of other drivers who started as casual drivers in GulfRun competitions have now graduated onto the international circuit.

Aside the safety awareness created around the event, many of the drivers who started as amateurs now find themselves competing as semi-professionals at GCC level championships and could in the near future be competing on international circuits. The level of professionalism and respect for the sport in Kuwait is on the ascendency and that’s good news for motorsport enthusiasts in the country. GulfRun is an annual car race that is managed and organized by a group of young Kuwaiti car enthusiasts who want to provide a venue for amateur drivers and to raise awareness on safe driving. Over 60 participants are classified into different categories according to their vehicles modification and power. At the racetrack, they are trained and compete in different motorsports venues at the track. Drivers can compete against their peers in a safe and secure environment; whilst learning valuable driving skills.

The GulfRun appreciates the continuous support by Kuwait’s private sector, which acknowledges the important role sport plays amongst Kuwait’s youth. GulfRun9 is supported by a wide range of sponsors: Title Sponsor is Wataniya Telecom; Platinum Sponsors are Algida, Transcrate, Jashanmal, Hydrotek Engineering Co, and Arabian Construction Co. Gold Sponsors are Slider Station, Al Sawan Co, Bayan Dental, Seven Friday and Moto Care. Supporting sponsors are Sirbb Circuit and 360 Mall. Dealer Sponsors are Fouad Alghanim & Sons Automotive Co, and Abdul Rahman Bisher & Zaid Alkazemi.

GulfRun is an annual motorsport event that started in 2005 that was organized by a group of young Kuwaitis who shared a passion for cars.  The GulfRun team wanted to provide a venue for amateur drivers while endorsing the importance of safe driving. The Bahrain International Circuit, with the help of qualified trainers and professional instructors, set the scene for what was to become an annual racing and training event. The goal behind GulfRun was simple; promote automobile racing and training in a safe and secure environment.

By Iddris Seidu
Arab Times Staff

By: Iddris Seidu

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