Fernando Alonso joins the celebration as HHA Aston Martin delivers power-driven DBX 707

One lucky customer was handed the keys to his coveted British supercar by none other than Aston Martin’s world-renowned and former Formula One champion driver Fernando Alonso. (Supplied)
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Updated 17 March 2023

Fernando Alonso joins the celebration as HHA Aston Martin delivers power-driven DBX 707

  • Special DBX 707 delivery event was celebrated in the Aston Martin showroom in Alkhobar,

Luxury car enthusiasts in Saudi Arabia have eagerly awaited the delivery of their pre-booked Aston Martin DBX 707 models, the world’s most powerful SUVs, which have now been mostly filled by the Saudi Aston Martin distributor, Haji Husein Alireza & Co. Ltd.

A special DBX 707 delivery event was celebrated in the Aston Martin showroom in Alkhobar, where one lucky customer was handed the keys to his coveted British supercar by none other than Aston Martin’s world-renowned and former Formula One champion driver Fernando Alonso.

Joining the festivities were executives from the main Aston Martin Racing partner, Aramco, as well as Haji Husein Alireza & Co. Managing Director Ali Alireza and Saudi Arabian rowing champion and Olympian Husein Alireza, who is also Aston Martin’s goodwill ambassador in the Middle East.

Aston Martin’s latest unveiling of the DBX 707 has dominated the luxury SUV market in 2023. Boasting unrivaled power, speed and a unique blend of performance, driving dynamics, design and luxury, this SUV sets a new standard that no other vehicle can match today. With the ability to reach incredible speeds, handle with precision and provide unparalleled comfort and style, the DBX 707 is truly in a league of its own. Powered by a 4.0-liter dual-turbocharged V8 engine with 697 horsepower, the DBX 707 can accelerate from zero to 62 mph in 3.3 seconds.

During the car delivery ceremony, Ali said: “The DBX 707 is the best high-performance luxury sports utility vehicle in the world. We are delighted today on this occasion to deliver it to its new owner in the presence of the Spanish Formula One racing legend, Fernando Alonso, and to share this joyous moment with him.”

Football great Zidane kicks off Le Mans 24 Hours

Updated 15 June 2024

Football great Zidane kicks off Le Mans 24 Hours

  • Zidane was wearing winter gear as he waved the ceremonial starter’s flag
  • The temperature was a chilly 15 degrees celsius with plenty of rain forecast until Sunday

LE MANS, France: French football great Zinedine Zidane acted as starter to get the mythic Le Mans 24 Hour race on its way at 1400GMT on Saturday.
Ahead of the 62 cars split into three categories on the grid lies the ultimate test of motorsport endurance — for the 186 drivers, their cars, mechanics and last but not least the crowd estimated at 250,000.
One major unknown for the 92nd edition was — despite being mid-June — the weather.
Zidane was wearing winter gear as he waved the ceremonial starter’s flag — a French tricolor with ‘24’ embossed in gold on it — handed to him by French soldiers who had abseiled down with it from a hovering helicopter.
The temperature was a chilly 15 degrees celsius with plenty of rain forecast until Sunday at 1400GMT when the winner will take the cherished chequered flag after around 350 laps of the iconic 13.6kilometer Sarthe circuit in the west of France near the medieval town of Le Mans.
There was nothing ancient about the gleaming machinery setting off led by the elite category Porsche Hypercar, in pole after qualifying on Thursday.
Ferrari are the defending title holders after claiming the centenary edition 12 months ago.
The Hypercar class is the most open in almost three decades with no fewer than nine different constructors presenting 23 cars.
In the early stages, Ferrari’s number 50 car led from the team’s 51 car, which won last year. A Porsche was in third.
Ferrari’s Formula One team principal Fred Vasseur predicted a close race.
“The fight is very, very tight, lot of good drivers.
“Twenty-four hours with this weather, very, very tight, we are just focused on ourselves.”

Mohammed Ben Sulayem chairs 2024 FIA conference, celebrates 120 years of the federation

Updated 14 June 2024

Mohammed Ben Sulayem chairs 2024 FIA conference, celebrates 120 years of the federation

  • The four-day event took place at the Silk Road Complex in the heart of Samarkand, Uzbekistan
  • Key announcements included all new Cross Cars, a helmet program, and the launch of a Women in Motorsport mentorship program

SAMARKAND: The FIA, motorsport’s world governing body, celebrated its 120th anniversary at its 2024 conference, chaired by President Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

More than 300 delegates from 167 member clubs representing 121 countries attended the event, hosted in the stunning Silk Road Complex in the heart of Samarkand, Uzbekistan.

Major announcements included the launch of a three-year Helmet Wearing program, designed to improve driver safety, a Women in Motorsport Mentorship Programme, launched in conjunction with 24 Hours of Le Mans, and all-new Cross Car designs.

The federation also set out plans to incorporate social impact into its sustainability roadmap.

Other key agenda items included a 120th anniversary session, led by the mobility department and featuring all four of the FIA’s regional presidents.

The sessions were complemented by a strong social program which included a Welcome Cocktail event at the Eternal City in the Silk Road complex, a gala dinner at the Mo’jiza restaurant, and an extraordinary light show at Registan Square.

The week concluded with an Extraordinary General Assemblies meeting in the Congress Center Ballroom, when members passed key amendments and updates including the FIA’s 2024 annual activity and financial report.

FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem said: “I want to extend my heartfelt thanks once again to the National Autosport and Karting Federation of Uzbekistan and the City of Samarkand for being such generous hosts and we are indebted to the support of the Administration of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Department of Social Development, the Ministry Of Sport, and the national Olympic and Paralympic Committees.

“We have celebrated an incredible milestone for the FIA as we reach 120 years, and whilst we have remembered the Federation’s illustrious past, we have also looked at what the future will bring.

“We have introduced robust governance, transparency, and clarity. It is my duty to ensure that our members and the global community are served with excellence. Our members are at the heart of everything we do, from the small group of enthusiasts who founded the Federation in 1904 to the 242 clubs who are now connected through the FIA.”

The next General Assemblies meeting and FIA Prize Giving, will be hosted in Kigali, Rwanda, in December.

Cappellini plots Team Abu Dhabi fightback in Italy

Updated 12 June 2024

Cappellini plots Team Abu Dhabi fightback in Italy

  • Racing legend says Al-Qemzi, Comparato are in the mood to start recovery in Sardinia

SARDINIA: Team Abu Dhabi manager Guido Cappellini says multiple world powerboat racing titlists Thani Al-Qemzi and Alberto Comparato are ready to launch a fightback at this weekend’s Regione Sardegna Grand Prix of Italy.

Cappellini believes three days of testing in San Nazzaro, in similar conditions to those that lie ahead in Olbia, have put veteran Al-Qemzi and young Italian teammate Comparato in the mood to recover from a difficult start to the 2024 UIM F1H2O World Championship.

“We’ve been working hard to make sure that we get better results in round three,” said the Italian racing legend, who has guided Team Abu Dhabi to 17 world championship titles since taking charge in 2015.

“Thani won in Sardinia two years ago on a circuit which is demanding in a particular way, and we have tried to test in the same kind of conditions in San Nazzaro to increase his confidence. He is working well with Alberto, they are supporting each other, so we hope this will pay off.”

The F1H2O series returns after an 11-week break since round two in Vietnam.

The Victory Team’s Erik Stark holds an eight-point lead in the drivers’ title race from Team Vietnam’s defending world champions and rankings leaders Jonas Andersson and Estonia’s Stefan Arand.

Al-Qemzi has vast experience, having recorded 10 Grand Prix victories and 45 podium finishes since his debut in 2000.

The Emirati driver will be eager to give himself a fighting chance in Saturday’s qualifying sessions, after taking his career points haul in the championship past the 1,000 mark with a battling sixth-place finish in Vietnam.

Comparato is equally determined to reignite his first season with Team Abu Dhabi and will draw inspiration from 10-time world champion Cappellini who had great success in Sardinia and knows race conditions.

Formula E Season 11 calendar reveals return to Saudi Arabia at new circuit

Updated 11 June 2024

Formula E Season 11 calendar reveals return to Saudi Arabia at new circuit

  • The electric car event’s longest championship season to date will include 17 races at 11 locations
  • The Kingdom will host races in Diriyah for a seventh time on Feb. 14-15 on a new track, details of which are yet to be announced

RIYADH: The provisional calendar for Season 11 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship, unveiled on Tuesday, confirms a return to Diriyah early next year and reveals the event’s longest season, with the largest number of races and locations to date.
It once again includes a race double-header in Saudi Arabia on Feb. 14-15. This will be the seventh time the Kingdom has been part of the Formula E championship and the races will take place on a new track in Diriyah, the precise details of which will be announced later.
The 11th season of the pioneering all-electric racing event will for the first time consist of 17 races at 11 locations. In addition to the new track in Diriyah, the provisional calendar, subject to validation by the FIA World Motorsport Council, reveals a new race location in Miami; a double-header of races in Monaco, marking a first for the principality in any motorsport championship; a double-header in Tokyo; and the return of Jakarta to the calendar.
“For Season 11 we’re taking electric racing to the next level and doing things that have never been done before in motorsport,” said Jeff Dodds, the CEO of Formula E.
“Our world-leading GEN3 EVO will debut in front of hundreds of millions of fans around the globe, while adding two brand new locations and combinations of double-headers to grow our sport further.
“The new and improved calendar offers a perfect blend of circuits for drivers to push their upgraded cars to the limit, while staying true to our street-racing DNA and the on-track action it produces.”
The Season 11 campaign will begin in Sao Paulo on Dec. 7, following preseason testing from Nov. 4-7 in Valencia, as the all-new GEN3 EVO race car — capable of going from 0-60 mph in just 1.82 seconds, 36 percent faster than the current GEN3 vehicles — is put through its paces and tested in public for the first time.
The new circuit in Diriyah will host the first double-header of the season, and on April 12 the championship returns to Miami for the first time since the first season, at the Homestead-Miami Speedway venue, which has hosted NASCAR and IndyCar races for decades.
Monaco will will host back-to-back races on the full Circuit de Monaco for the first time, and following the inaugural Tokyo E-Prix in March this year, for which public roads in the world’s most populous city were closed for an automotive event for the first time, it will host a double header of races on May 17 and 18.
Jakarta returns to the calendar after a one-year hiatus, and the season will conclude with a double-header finale at ExCeL London. One location is yet to be confirmed, as final discussions with a new venue continue ahead of final confirmation of the calendar following the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council Meeting.
“We’re thrilled to offer a calendar with some fresh new highlights while building on our legacy locations,” said Alberto Longo, co-founder and chief championship officer of Formula E.
“Returning to Miami gives us a home in one of the US’s most iconic and sports-mad cities, while securing a double-header in Monaco is a dream come true. We can’t wait to build on the success of Tokyo and deliver a double-header, while returning to Jakarta and entertaining our huge Indonesian fanbase, too.
“With 17 races across the season and our most advanced race car debuting on-track, we’re offering our fans cutting-edge sport we could only have hoped for when founding the championship just over 10 years ago.”
Marek Nawarecki, director of the FIA Circuit Sport Department, said: “The 2024-25 ABB FIA Formula E World Championship calendar features a range of circuits that will truly showcase the qualities of the brand new GEN3 EVO car, set to be introduced next season.
“I’m glad that Formula E capitalizes on the success of the Tokyo and Shanghai races while also returning to some of its iconic venues and retaining a good amount of street circuits, which is in its core DNA. I’m also hopeful that this new season will again play host to some fascinating action on track.”

Max Verstappen wins ‘crazy’ rain-hit Canadian Grand Prix

Updated 09 June 2024

Max Verstappen wins ‘crazy’ rain-hit Canadian Grand Prix

  • The series leader and three-time champion rode his luck through changing wet and dry conditions

MONTREAL: Max Verstappen returned to form and completed a hat-trick of Canadian Grand Prix wins on Sunday when he triumphed for Red Bull in a thrilling, tactical and incident-filled race at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
“Pretty crazy race,” said the Dutchman at the finish. “A lot happening. We stayed calm.”
The series leader and three-time champion rode his luck through changing wet and dry conditions and two safety car interventions to win by 3.879 seconds ahead of McLaren’s Lando Norris and Mercedes’ George Russell.
Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton came home fourth, after being passed by Russell in the closing laps. Oscar Piastri was fourth in the second McLaren ahead of two-time champion Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin.
It was a 60th career victory for Verstappen and his 50th from the last 75 races.
Local hope Lance Stroll was seventh in the second Aston Martin ahead of RB’s Daniel Ricciardo and the two Alpines of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon.
“What a race guys,” Verstappen told his team on the radio. “Not easy, but we did it! A great job by everyone. We made all the right calls. I enjoyed that one.”
“A lot of fun,” said Norris, whose result together with Piastri, brought McLaren their first points in Canada since 2014 on the 56th anniversary of the team’s first win, with Bruce McLaren, at the 1968 Belgian Grand Prix.
“An ugly race on my behalf and I am sorry for that,” Russell said, conceding he was disappointed not to convert his pole position into victory.
Five cars, including both Ferraris and both Williams, failed to finish.
On a day of showers, only the two Haas cars chose full wet tires to start as Russell, on intermediates, pulled clear of Verstappen. The entire field slithered through the opening laps. Hamilton passed Ricciardo to sixth.
When the sun returned, a dry line emerged and lap times tumbled, Russell and Verstappen swapping fastest laps at the front, nearly eight seconds clear of Norris.
Russell resisted Verstappen before the champion ran wide at turn two and fell within Norris’s reach, the McLaren man passing on lap 20, using Drag Reduction System (DRS) to sweep by. He then passed Russell on lap 21.
Behind the top four, Alonso in fifth resisted Hamilton before Sargeant crashed his Williams, prompting a safety car intervention. Norris stayed out, but Verstappen, Russell and Piastri pitted for inters, as did Alonso and Hamilton.
As the marshals struggled to remove Sargeant’s car, Norris pitted from the lead and re-joined third behind Verstappen and Russell, a harsh setback for the McLaren man.
“The safety car helped me in Miami but now it held me. It happens that’s racing,” Norris who enjoyed good fortune on the way to his maiden win in May, said after the race.
The race resumed on lap 30 with Leclerc gambling on hard tires, but as rain arrived again he dropped to 19th. Alonso then ran off and Hamilton surged to fifth, just behind Piastri.
As the track dried, Leclerc pitted again, before retiring.
As the other leaders pitted, Norris staying out to pad his lead and build an ‘over-cut’ before pitting on lap 47.
He took mediums, but as he re-joined , Verstappen speared through.
“The ride is bad, like a locked suspension,” grumbled the Dutchman with 20 laps to go in dry conditions. “I can’t touch any kerbs, it almost knocks me out.”
Another crash on lap 54 brought out a second safety car, Albon and a spinning Carlos Sainz tangling after Perez had smashed into the barriers and broken his rear wing.
Mercedes promptly pitted both cars, Russell for mediums and Hamilton for hards. They were fourth and fifth behind Verstappen and the two McLarens when racing resumed and the late drama unfolded.