As the international racing heros of the Gulf 12 Hours start arriving at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s endurance race, so too are the sport’s future stars who will fight for bragging rights at the second round of the 2016/17 Formula 4 UAE Championship.

Sharing the racing spotlight with the Gulf 12 Hours event from Thursday, F4UAE will see a growing grid as new Australian driver, Oscar Piastri, joins the field. More racing will also be added to the schedule as teams prepare to tackle four championship races around the famed 5.5km Formula 1 circuit in the UAE’s capital.

“We have approximately 100 volunteers from UAE Motorsport Marshals Club who are ready to manage the Gulf 12 Hours race this year, which will be running in conjunction with the second round of the F4UAE. All marshals were trained according to the highest international standards, they showed great commitment and wide knowledge about their specific tasks” said Mohammed Ben Sulayem, President of ATCUAE AND EMSF.

 “On the other hand, we will see a lot of excitement at the second round of the F4UAE, at this round, the competitors will be more familiar with the circuit track and the car they are driving after spending good time driving it at the first round as well as the Trophy Event. I would like to wish everyone an enjoyable and safe event” added Ben Sulayem

At last month’s Round 1 in Dubai where Races 1 to 3 were held, Team Motopark teammates Jonathan Aberdein (#21) from South Africa and Logan Sargeant (#23) from the USA claimed first and second places respectively across all three point-scoring races.

Dubai-based Energy Dubai F4 Racing Team’s Sean Babington (#4) and Rasgaira Motorsport’s James Roe Jr (#11) from Ireland shared third place finishes after hard fought battles with the front-runners.

Aberdein currently leads the driver standings on 75 points ahead of Sargeant, who also leads the rookie standings, on 54. While QMMF F4 Team’s Ahmad Al Muhannadi (#22) from Qatar has the most championship points among his fellow GCC competitors.

Australian karter and Young Racing Driver Academy (YRDA) star Piastri will be the one to watch as he makes his circuit racing debut with Dragon F4. The 15-year-old who is based in Englad recently finished sixth at the CIK FIA world junior championship in Bahrain, and has spent time testing a British F4 in Europe and the UK, but says he is not daunted by the challenge ahead.

"I’m excited because it’s my first car race, but with European karting it doesn’t get much bigger in terms of the level of competition so I’m used to the pressure,” said Piastri. “At the end of the day it’s still a race car, but with karts you can get away with sliding through corners. With F4 it’s more about precision driving. I’ve gone through data and watched some onboard vision of the Dragon F4 car at the circuit so I’m really looking forward to getting into the car now and getting some testing done myself. Yas Marina Circuit looks spectacular.”

Along with the Team Motopark, this weekend sees the return of multiple karting champion Sean Babington again for Energy Dubai F4 Racing Team, Irish racer James Roe Jr for Rasgaira Motorsport, Ahmad Al Muhannadi and Abdulrahman Tolefat (#20) for QMMF F4 Team and Saif ben Sulayem (#03) for the ATCUAE who’s car has been repaired following an accident in practice at the last round.

The 2016/17 calendar features 18 championship races across five rounds. Round 2 of the F4UAE Championship will begin on Thursday December 15 at Yas Marina Circuit – the Home of F4UAE – with two extened test sessions scheduled from 12.15pm. Friday sees official practice, qualifying, and then Races 4 and 5 of the season from 2.30pm, followed by Races 6 and 7 on Saturday from 8.30am.