The Kingdom of Bahrain is a small country island situated in the Arabian Gulf and is home to one of the world´s newest international race circuits. Opened in 2004 by Prince Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) plays host to the annual Bahrain Grand Prix and has become one of the leading motorsport venues (next to Abu Dhabi) in the middle east.
In fact, Bahrain was the first country in the Middle East to hold the Formula One World Championship which took place on the same year the circuit was opened, with Michael Schumacher taking the chequered flag. However, the circuit is not only loyal to Formula One and has hosted the famous Australian V8 Supercar series with their former Desert 400 event.
V8 Supercar Racing in Bahrain
The Bahrain V8 Supercar Desert 400 was held 4 times over the course of 5 years from 2006 until 2010. This was won 3 times by Ford BF Falcon drivers Jason Bright, Mark Winterbottom and Jamie Whincup; however Jamie Whincup won again in 2010 with a Holden VE Commodore (saving face for Holden with the legendary Ford/Holden rivalry).
The Australian V8, like Formula One, also runs as an international series event under FIA regulations. Outside of Australia and apart from Bahrain, it has only been held in New Zealand and Abu Dhabi. The race itself has many formats which consist of short 100km-300km races on each day of the weekend and endurance races which are either 500km or 1000km long.
The Bahrain International Race Circuit
The Bahrain International Race Circuit was very efficiently designed by Hermann Tilke who was responsible for designing GP venues in Sepang, Shanghai, Istanbul Park and Valencia. With this in mind, it continues to be well run and maintained, and became the first circuit to receive the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile Institute Center of Excellence trophy in 2007.
The circuit has eight tracks and was designed so that two can be simultaneously run. This allows for a variety of events which include Formula One, Australian V8 Supercars, drag racing, long distance GT sports car or saloon racing, open track days for cars and motorcycles, 4 x 4 off road driving, and even go-karting.
The circuit has been built for large events with a seating capacity of 45, 000 and a spectator main grandstand capacity of 10,500. In addition, the BIC has a number of VIP suites, a complex of buildings for 11 Grand Prix teams, 18 buildings dedicated to international racing teams, and car parks with spaces for 13, 000 cars.
The BIC also had a state of the art Race Control center and an Oasis complex which provides another pit for race and technical support. This alone has a 3, 000 seat grandstand.
Bringing Tourism to Bahrain
With the increased interest in tourism to the Middle East in recent years, Bahrain has certainly not been an exception. It´s naturally hot climate, rich culture, modernistic resorts and close proximity to beaches makes this a great holiday destination for people of all ages and from all backgrounds.
The official language is Arabic, although English is widely spoken amongst the population. In addition, the people are very friendly which means that getting around wont be a problem. As a result , those interested in spending some time at the Bahrain International Circuit won´t only have the spectacular motorsports to keep them occupied.
Safety and Preparing for the Future
Anyone interested in visiting the Bahrain International Circuit for V8 Supercars, Formula One or other motorsports events will have a pleasant time. The circuit has been designed to easily cater to corporate events and smaller individual fun days and has a lot to offer.
In addition, for those concerned about safety, BIC has a modern medical care center which has been equipped according to stringent FIA medical commission and international racing standards. However, the circuit works very hard to ensure that accidents don´t happen and actively promotes FIA´s global road safety campaign and safe driving in general.
Bahrain has made a bold statement with its high tech international circuit and anyone visiting will soon understand why upon seeing it.