A need for speed
Given Ferrari World’s new Turbo Track rollercoaster propels riders 64 metres into the air at 102kph before plunging back to Earth, it’s no surprise Afshan Ahmed was a little nervous before taking a test drive
Turbo Track, the newest rollercoaster at Ferrari World Abu Dhabi is up and running just in time for the school holidays. While it only reaches half the speed of the park’s Formula Rossa (the world’s fastest thrill ride) and is brief, it is not any less petrifying for all that.
Riders are hurled vertically up through a glass funnel in the theme park’s roof before plunging back down “faster than a speeding bullet” – or at least, that is what it feels like. Turbo Track, which opened to the public yesterday, is the park’s third rollercoaster, joining Formula Rossa, which opened in 2010, and Flying Aces, which was launched last year.
The new attraction simulates the experience of a training facility for Ferrari drivers, where they are tested for speed, precision and pressure before being recruited.
The rollercoaster, which is ridden as part of a mock threephase performance analysis, was created by Intamin Amusement Rides, the Swiss developer behind the other two rides at the park.
Rollercoasters are meant to be exhilarating, and Turbo Track is definitely a worthy addition on that alone. Where it perhaps scores higher than the other rides in the park is in its conscientious design and construction. The developers took about a year to design and build the ride, including the creation of a 16-square-metre opening in the distinctive red-glass roof of the park through which the track passes, propelling riders 64 metres in the air to the highest point on Yas Island.
But before reaching such lofty heights, there is a pre-ride show to get thrill seekers in the mood. I entered the dimmed ride chamber and was greeted by a cheery facility technical director dressed in a lab coat and carrying a clipboard. The actor delivers an amusing script that will entertain youngsters while they try their hands at some speed and precision tests. The first is a numbers game which tests reflexes as visitors try to hit blinking lights as fast as they can in 30 seconds. The second involves moving a metal loop along a metal wire without touching it, to assess precision.
Before being ushered through to the rollercoaster, riders are given safety instructions, which includes emptying pockets and leaving phones behind.
For our special preview, we were allowed to secure a GoPro video camera to the front of the coach – you can watch the footage at www.thenational.ae/ arts-life. For visitors who want keepsakes of their comical and unflattering moments during the ride, the track has been fitted with cameras, and photos can be purchased afterwards.
fearlessly took two rides – I opted to look ahead.
After being strapped in at the docking station, the coach moves onto the main track. Before I have a chance to brace myself for the 102 kilometres per hour top speed at which we will be travelling ( Formula Rossa reaches 239kph), we accelerate with a force that catches me by surprise.
It creates a pit in my stomach, my heart is in my mouth, and I feel light- headed as the blood rushes to my brain.
Within seconds we are out of the theme park and the coach is vertically upright at a height of 64 metres, the sun blinding me as I try to appreciate the fleeting view of the Yas Island.
Before we know it, our coach drops down the twisting track and we are in a free fall back into the park, all in less than 30 seconds.
As we approach the starting point, the coach slows down, giving riders a chance to regain composure before they have to disembark. Still, it takes a few seconds after it stops for me to orient myself.
I’m a little wobbly as I step out – but immediately sign up to ride it again, this time facing the other way. This experience, I am told, is different because you feel like you are being dragged along at high speed.
This time, as we pull out I’m jolted forward, my ponytail hitting my face. I again feel my stomach sink, but am buzzing with the excitement of the swift ascent as we descend.
For the third part of the experience, during the final evaluation at the “training facility”, drivers are assessed on their ability to cope with the adrenalin rush and pressure experienced on the rollercoaster.
With my heart still racing and feeling a little woozy minutes after hopping off, I do not think Ferrari will be asking me to sign up to be a racing driver any time soon.
Turbo Track is open now. For more details, visit www. ferrariworldabudhabi.com
The new Turbo Track rollercoaster at Ferrari World, which is now open to the public, is a worthy addition for speed lovers.