DUBAI- Young hopefuls following their motor sport dreams to Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit next month will be told that fitness is as important as skill behind the wheel in the race to reach the top.
Up to 23 candidates from the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia will attend the regional qualifying event taking place from 28 September to 1 October for the 2015 FIA Institute Young Driver Excellence Academy.
Organised by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE (ATCUAE), the event will select one of the ten young drivers worldwide who will win a place in next year’s fully funded Academy programme to develop young talent and promote safety in motor sport.
The need for young drivers to match driving skills with peak fitness in order to be successful will be driven home by Professor Gareth Davison, a specialist in sport and exercise science research at the University of Ulster.
“Drivers nowadays need to be extremely fit to cope with the demands of motor sport,” said Davidson, who will be among a panel of experts in Abu Dhabi. “You just need to look at the current F1 drivers to see extreme examples of fitness at the top of motorsport.”
During a series of classroom sessions at Yas Marina Circuit, the drivers will undergo a range of demanding fitness tests and physiology procedures to examine aerobic endurance, anaerobic capacity, strength, flexibility, body fat and hydration status.
“Typically, it’s the neck and shoulder region that takes the brunt of the stress, caused by tension while driving,” says Davison. “If a driver is weak in these areas, fatigue sets in and concentration starts to decline as the driver becomes concerned with sore arms and a stiff neck, rather than concentrating fully on the task at hand.
“When a driver is required to compete over qualifying and race day, a lack of fitness means ability to recover is impaired, and the performance on race day will inevitability suffer.”
The ATCUAE and 22 other regional motor sport authorities have each been invited by the FIA Institute to nominate a driver aged between 15 and 23 to take part in the Abu Dhabi qualifying event, one of six being held worldwide.
“The work in the classroom is just as important as the expert driving instruction they’ll receive out on the circuit,” said ATCUAE President Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the FIA Vice President.
“To find success in motor sport these days a driver must be physically fit, mentally sharp, have strong powers of concentration, and be able to handle the additional pressures that come from media and sponsorship demands.”
The ATCUAE has been assessing potential candidates and will shortly nominate its representative for the qualifying event. Other candidates have been invited from Algeria, Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan and Yemen.
Previous academy graduates include Formula One reserve drivers Alexander Rossi, Stoffel Vandoorne and Robin Frijns, and World Rally Championship drivers Andreas Mikkelsen, Pontus Tidemand and Craig Breen.