Yas Marina was fired up on the 28th of December ’2012 with the sound of thunder. The effect was created by almost 50 bikes on the North circuit track. The first track experience for bikers at the famous Yas Marina Circuit Abu Dhabi was spearheaded by Najati Barakat, a petrolhead and an experienced rider himself.
First Motorbike Track Experience at Yas Marina Circuit | CarbonOctane salutes Najati Barakat on a job well done
Ever since Yas Marina came on the map, bikers were salivating on the prospect of possible motorbike track days on a true F1 circuit. The only other option was Dubai’s Autodrome. For those who have experienced the CSS (California SuperBike School) at Yas Marina, raved about the grippy tarmac and the breathtaking scenery of the track.
Almost two years had gone by and still no word of track days, at least not for bikers, at Yas Marina. So Najati took the matters into his own hands and talked to the Yas Marina officials and booked the track for him and his 50 friends which included 3 female riders for a night out at Yas. Oh and what a night out it was, a true fitting way to end the 2012 year, we had all survived doomsday so it was time to celebrate.
But this was no ordinary track night. Najati is quite a perfectionist and wanted a complete track experience for his buddies. This included track marshals to keep everyone in place as a lead and follow event as well as a well documented registration process with individual bike number tags in addition to a raffle draw for a free track day at the Dubai Autodrome which was won by a lucky rider. Friends and racers all chipped in to make this track day as safe and enjoyable as possible. Amongst the marshals were notable names in the bike racing community such as Hussein Al Kooheji , Andrea Cappocia and Adel Abu-Aysha. All of them are experienced racers who had raced in Dubai’s National Race days and great people both on and off the track. The registration and pit lane were handled by Weaam, Wisam, Marwa and Cynthia. Even scrutinizing of the bikes were done and were given a stamp of approval for being track worthy. The tread of the tires and the brakes of the bikes were checked as well as the slack on the chains. Some bikes arrived in race trim and though the circuit is lit, the marshals made sure that each bike had front and rear lights present for safety purposes.
The sessions consisted of two groups. Group A for advanced riders who have clocked in many hours of track days and Group B who were not as experienced. Both groups were monitored by the marshals on the bikes and were made sure that they had a safe riding experience.
Here is what Najati had to say about the event :
The YAS Track Attack Experience was the first of its kind to promote safe riding off the streets and onto the race tracks in addition to educating riders about track riding and giving them an overall complete track experience in a safe controlled environment led by seasoned racers such as Hussain, Andrea and Adel who were continuously on track ensuring proper track etiquette was followed and what better place to do it than on the famous YAS F1 Circuit. We also wanted to make it as memorable as possible and called in the help of photographer Scott Donnelly from ScottyBoi Images to take snaps of the riders.
Arnab : Najati, first of all congratulations on a job well done! Though I did not take part in the event I did notice that everything went off without a hitch. Tell me how you were able to pull this mega event off and what kind of support you received.
Najati : Well Arnab, it was a bit tricky, as you and most of the public know that YAS Marina Circuit is off limits to regular bike track days due to the safety aspect involved. Basically there are not enough run off areas on the majority of the corners thus making it extremely dangerous for a biker to come/fall off on such a corner. However as we tried figuring out a way to get riders onto the F1 so we agreed to a lead and follow type of event where we would have safety marshals riding on track at all times with the other riders, ahead and around them to ensure that speeds would not exceed dangerous digits and that there was no dangerous overtaking happening in order to ensure the safety of all the riders on track. Support came from Ducati as they contributed to our event and had some Panigale 1199S on track. Abu Dhabi Motors BMW who had gathered registrations for us from Abu Dhabi side with the help of Wissam Balaa one of our event organizers. Further support came from Al Tayer Motors / Premier Motors the official Land Rover dealers in the UAE showcasing their LR4 and LR2 both cars great all purpose luxury vehicles well capable of off-roading and hitching a trailer. Redbull was also on site, we had contacted them and they were pleased to send their team down and distribute the well needed energy drink.
Arnab : Will there be more such bike track events planned in the near future?
Najati : The idea to ride at YAS started in a group discussion on my Facebook group called: Track Attack. It was a bit of a challenge getting onto YAS but with the support of the group cheering me on and the YAS management. The idea was and had to stay simple and safe as safety was the key word in this event. We managed to get this done with the help of close friends and riders and with the overall understanding from fellow riders about the dangers involved, I must say everyone behaved nicely. This event was a non profit event, we made sure that we had enough people to cover cost but didn’t want to flood the track with riders as the busier it gets the less space there will be for a rider to enjoy the track and the higher the risk. The extra money which we had collected went for the food and beverages and we had purchased a Dubai Autodrome Track Day voucher which was raffled off to a lucky rider. I have been in talks with my friends and with YAS for a larger event possibly taking up the entire F1 circuit also known as the GP circuit configuration, the costs involved are higher but the space means we can have a slightly larger number of bikers on track thus dividing costs will not make it that more expensive than our last event. I hope to have more news in the next few weeks regarding the possibility of another event at YAS.
Arnab : What was the reaction and the feedback you got from the participants and the Yas Marina Officials?
Najati : The team and I believe it was a joyful and successful evening amongst fellow riders and friends involved. We have received a lot of supportive feedback from participants. Quote: By Mr S.B. “I thought it was excellent and very well managed throughout” another by Mr J.A. “awesome organization , a really good night out on the track with great biking buddies, excellent work Najati Barakat and the team for such a professional and enjoyable YAS experience!”. The YAS officials which conducted the event were edgy at the start of the event but after seeing how well we had everything under control and how well we handled the obstacles faced on the night of the event they were very happy and relieved. Quote: by one of the YAS staff “What a relief that all went well, well done from your side, I wouldn’t mind being an official at any of your future events”. I would like to personally add: I am grateful to all those who contributed to the event from the organizers to the riders and all who supported. Thank you!
Arnab : For those who want to follow up on the upcoming bike track days both at the Autodrome and at Yas Marina, where can they get the information?
Najati : The Dubai Autodrome have their own calendar and send out emails regularly regarding their track days which happen nearly on a weekly basis now J. However as mentioned before I have opened a group on Facebook named Track Attack. A group which I had initially created to update my close friends with track timings, dates of coming track days and other bike related topics. The group has expanded rapidly and unexpectedly within less than a year now. For anyone who is interested to get info about Track riding, track days, riding gear, bike parts, articles on safety and overall riding you can join the Facebook group: Track Attack (Motorbike Track Days in UAE)
So there you have it. A true first bike track event at Yas Marina Circuit. With regional sponsors from Al Tayer Motors / Premier Motors – Land Rover , Revolutions Ltd – Ducati, Abu Dhabi Motors – BMW and Red Bull who recognized the magnitude of the event and sent in their Mini to distribute free drinks.
Images by Scott Donnelly :
** More pictures would follow soon