By Richard Bevan
Dubai is a city of great variety. If it’s luxury or culture you’re after, the emirate has you covered. From afternoon tea at the Burj Al Arab and 24 carat cold facials to dhows on the creek and the old town souks you’ll find what you’re looking for. But Dubai is also one of the greatest cities in the world for adrenaline junkies to get a thrill fix and one the best places to do just that has to be the Dubai Autodrome. The Dubai Motor City facility is a petrol head’s dream with a full spectrum of racing experiences on offer from karting to drifting and everything in between as we discovered when we headed there for an unforgettable day of action-packed fun.
Single Seater Racing
To kick things off I signed up for Formula DXB single seater racing session and what a way to blow the cobwebs off in the morning it was! After being kitted up in race suits, helmets and gloves we were given a thorough safety briefing before being shuttled to the track where our chariots awaited. The full autodrome circuit is sectioned off into tracks of various sizes for different experiences and races.
The Formula DXB experience takes place on the relatively short 1.2km Oval Circuit which is perfect for single seaters as it features lots bends. After being seated in our cars we did a lap of the circuit behind an instructor in order to learn the lines as well as the break and acceleration points – there are also different coloured cones positioned around the track to help with this. Then we were let loose for a couple of laps as the instructors watched on before separating us into two groups – one for the faster, more experienced drivers and one for the beginners and less experienced among us. The sound and smell of the engines is invigorating even before you’ve started driving but the rush of adrenaline that hits you when you first put your foot to the floor is truly exhilarating.
The cars are lightweight and very low to the ground so you really feel every twist and turn and your heart goes into your mouth every time you accelerate – 0-100kph in 4.6 seconds! It’s like karting on steroids and a thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended experience. The whole session, including briefing, lasted around an hour and forty-five minutes and I had to fight the urge to book onto another one immediately. But I will have to return another day for my next appointment awaited…
Price: AED 920
Audi R8 Thrill
Next up was the Audi R8 Thrill experience. Again, the session began with kitting up and a safety briefing before we were walked over to the much larger Club Circuit. First, we did four laps in an Audi TT – similar to the R8 but less of a beast – in order to get a feel for the circuit. This time there was an instructor sat in the passenger seat throughout, telling us when to break, turn and accelerate. It was fascinating to learn how the experts drive and really helped to get the most out of the experience.
After getting to grips with the TT it was time for the big one – the R8. The difference in speed and power was evident immediately – these cars pack a punch, which is to be expected from a 5.2 litre V10 engine churning out 540bhp. The handling was superb which was just as well as we raced towards the bends, working through the paddle shift gears with acceleration of 0-100kph in 3.2 seconds and top speeds approaching 330kph.
What a rush! Just like the single seater experience, the time flew by and just as I was getting the hang of it, it was all over. When I told the instructor that I wished we could’ve stayed out a while longer his reply was “Everyone says that, trust me, even if you had all day, you’d still feel the same.” I don’t doubt him for a minute. If only I had a spare AED 600,000 lying around so I could buy one for myself…
Price: AED 1,525
Seawings Silver Seaplane Tour
To finish off our day of thrill seeking we headed to Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club to board a Seawings flight taking in the sights of Dubai from a truly unique perspective. The 45-minute tour takes off and lands on the water of the Creek which is an experience in itself. The aerial views of the city’s iconic landmarks such as the Burj Khalifa, Palm Jumeirah, World Islands and Burj Al Arab are breathtaking with photo opportunities galore.
The pilot expertly steers the aircraft into the best vantage points and makes sure that passengers sat on each side of the plane get equal views of the main points of interest. Dubai really is an impressive city visually and it’s as if it was made to be viewed from the air. Seawings offer a variety of different Dubai and Abu Dhabi tours as well as exclusive charters and if the Silver Seaplane Tour is anything to go by they are well worth checking out.
Price: Adults AED 1,780 Children: AED 1,515