Former Formula 1 stars such as Jean Alesi, Johnny Herbert and Heinz-Harald Frentzen will return to the grand prix paddock in 2009 – as Speedcar gets set to join the circus on the supporting bill at as many as three races.
The Dubai-based, winter stock car series only came into being in 2007, but has proven to be such a popular hit that it has already attracted such big names as the aforementioned grand prix winners as well as other stars like Alessandro Nannini, Stefan Johannsson, JJ Lehto, Gianni Morbidelli, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Alex Yoong and former Champ Car king Paul Tracy.
On the back of that, the Dubai-based series will run alongside both the Malaysian and Bahrain Grands Prix early on in 2009 – and is now bidding to also be added to the schedule for the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix season-closer on 1 November.
“We are working with the FIA to race together with Formula 1,” Speedcar promoter Claudio Berro told local newspaper The National
, revealing that he is similarly 'in talks with Abu Dhabi'.
“This year (2008), we raced at two grands prix; next year we want to make it three or more races. The combination of Speedcar and F1 is a great mix.”
Meanwhile, Alesi set the testing pace at Dubai Autodrome, the Frenchman comfortably topping the times on both days around the desert circuit as he laid down an early marker that he has every intention of stealing erstwhile F1 team-mate Herbert's season one crown.
The Briton lapped third-quickest, eight tenths of a second adrift and separated from the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix winner by former Jordan Grand Prix star Frentzen. Others to show well were Tracy, Liuzzi and ex-DTM ace Uwe Alzen.
Of the 21 drivers in attendance, Alesi led the way ahead of Frentzen, Herbert and Fabrizio Gollin, with Morbidelli, Alzen, Chris Buncombe, Tracy, local man Hasher Al Maktoum and Christian Jones – son of 1980 F1 World Champion Alan Jones – completing the top ten.
The next and last test session before the start of the 2008-09 campaign will be held at Dubai Autodrome again on 23-24 November. The first of six meetings will take place at the same venue from 4-6 December.