TO THE LIMIT

ON TRACK WITH DRAGON RAC­ING

Virtuozity - - Front Page -

If you fol­low the UAE na­tional rac­ing sea­son at all, you’ll no doubt be fa­mil­iar with Dragon Rac­ing. It’s one of the most suc­cess­ful GT3 rac­ing out­fits in the Gulf, and has won a num­ber of lo­cal cham­pi­onships, as well as com­peted in in­ter­na­tional races such as Le Mans.

But if you’re a high-fly­ing CEO from an in­ter­na­tional com­pany, with lit­tle un­der­stand­ing of the rac­ing scene in the Mid­dle East, you still might know about Dragon Rac­ing—al­beit for en­tirely dif­fer­ent rea­sons.

While the Dubai-based rac­ing team does what you might ex­pect of any team—tak­ing part in and win­ning races—dragon Rac­ing’s bread and but­ter is ac­tu­ally in teach­ing high-fly­ing mem­bers of the elite how to race. The com­pany is all about tak­ing el­e­ments such as pre­ci­sion, con­trol, and know­ing how to push the lim­its of skill, and ap­ply­ing them to race days so that cor­po­rates can gain a feel for what it’s like to be a real rac­ing driver.

With its cor­po­rate track days, dubbed the

Pro-track Ex­pe­ri­ence, Dragon Rac­ing puts cor­po­rate cus­tomers be­hind the wheel of a track-mod­i­fied rac­ing ma­chine, and of­fers coach­ing from some of the very best in­ter­na­tional rac­ing driv­ers. On top of that, the com­pany of­fers state-of-the-art teleme­try sys­tems, which mea­sure var­i­ous as­pects of a track drive, pro­vid­ing feed­back on how driv­ers can im­prove.

A cor­po­rate race day in the hands of Dragon Rac­ing looks some­thing like this: A team of cor­po­rate cus­tomers ar­rive at the venue (ei­ther Yas Ma­rina Cir­cuit, or Dubai Au­to­drome), and get their race suits fit­ted, along with pro­tec­tive gear and hel­mets. Af­ter that, there’s a brief­ing, which pro­vides in­for­ma­tion on the car, driv­ing tech­niques, and an in­tro­duc­tion to the teleme­try sys­tems. Fol­low­ing this, there’s an ini­tial driv­ing ses­sion, fol­lowed by a de­brief and lap anal­y­sis, and then an­other driv­ing ses­sion and de­brief and lap anal­y­sis. There’s a quick break for a gourmet lunch (com­plete with frozen yo­ghurt, if it’s a hot day), and then there are two more driv­ing ses­sions, each with their own de­brief and anal­y­sis ses­sions.

The driv­ing ses­sions are in­tense, 25-minute af­fairs—a gru­elling amount of time for any­one un­used to thrash­ing a race-pre­pared car around track. How­ever, be­cause Dragon Rac­ing em­ploys top rac­ing driv­ers from around the world to in­struct its cus­tomers, guests end up be­com­ing ad­dicted to the idea of low­er­ing their lap times. And on that count, the com­pany really de­liv­ers— while not giv­ing a pre­cise num­ber, the com­pany claims that cus­tomers are gen­er­ally “as­tounded” by the im­prove­ments in their lap times over the course of the day.

The cars that Dragon Rac­ing of­fers up for th­ese cor­po­rate track ex­pe­ri­ences are really spe­cial. There’s a choice of two: the Mclaren GT 12C Sprint, and the Fer­rari 458 Chal­lenge. Both are hard­core, race-pre­pared ma­chines with much power, plenty of aero, and lit­tle in the way of lux­ury. They are de­signed to go fast around tracks, end of story.

The 12C Sprint has been de­vel­oped by Mclaren GT, the car man­u­fac­turer’s in-house rac­ing arm, to de­liver a more track-fo­cused rac­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Stripped of crea­ture com­forts and un­nec­es­sary weight, the ma­chine re­tains the bal­ance and pre­cise char­ac­ter­is­tics of the road car, but aug­ments that ex­pe­ri­ence with For­mula 1-style tech­nol­ogy. In­deed, the V8 growl of the 3.8-litre, twin-turbo en­gine and the safety fea­tures are just about the only as­pects of the Mclaren road car that re­main. This track-fo­cused ma­chine de­vel­ops 625 bhp, and thanks to its weight of just 1,350 kilo­grams, it will hit a top speed of 299 kph.

The Fer­rari 458 Chal­lenge, like­wise, is a high-per­for­mance ma­chine that has been pur­pose-built for the track. Pow­ered by a race-tuned, 4.5-litre V8, and stripped of all non-es­sen­tial weight, the 458 Chal­lenge is a mere 0.2 sec­onds slower around the Fio­rano test track than the leg­endary Fer­rari FXX rac­ing ma­chine. The 0-100 kph time is dealt with in three sec­onds, and top speed is 309 kph.

To help its cus­tomers get the most out of th­ese ma­chines, Dragon Rac­ing of­fers some of the finest tu­ition. Head­ing things up is Rob Barff, the com­pany’s di­rec­tor of rac­ing and tu­ition. A pro­fes­sional Bri­tish

rac­ing driver, his ca­reer spans 25 years, with the last 14 years as a fully pro­fes­sional race driver and driver coach. He spe­cialises in in­ter­na­tional GT rac­ing, and has also com­peted in LMP1 and LMP2 sportscars at the high­est level. He’s also an ex­pert at ve­hi­cle data in­ter­pre­ta­tion, mean­ing that he can make sense of the data that comes out dur­ing the post-rac­ing de­briefs.

Nat­u­rally, all of this ex­cite­ment doesn’t come cheap. Barff ex­plains that the cost is jus­ti­fied, how­ever, given all that is on of­fer. For one thing, Dragon Rac­ing of­fers the chance to rent out the en­tire track, so that the rac­ing ses­sions really are pri­vate. For an­other, rac­ing in­struc­tors can be flown in from any­where. Barff proudly ex­plains that, if there’s a Ja­panese CEO in town who wants a day of rac­ing, Dragon Rac­ing can ar­range for a Ja­panese rac­ing driver to be flown in for the in­struc­tion ses­sions, so that lessons can be de­liv­ered in the stu­dent’s home lan­guage.

“That sort of thing really makes a dif­fer­ence to peo­ple,” Barff says. “To have a les­son given in your own lan­guage, peo­ple get really sur­prised that we’ve ac­tu­ally gone to that much ef­fort, and they al­ways leave with a smile on their faces.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.