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

The National - News - Arts & Life - - Front Page -

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.

Rid­ing high

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

Delores Johnson / The Na­tional

The new Turbo Track rollercoaster at Fer­rari World, which is now open to the pub­lic, is a wor­thy ad­di­tion for speed lovers.

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